The Facebook “60 Minutes” Interview: Square Peg in Round Hole

By: Guest | December 20, 2010 | 

Guest post by Jocelyn Rimbey, digital marketing manager at The Cyphers Agency.

Anyone who is anyone in the social media world watched Mark Zuckerberg’s “60 Minutes” interview with Lesley Stahl. We tuned in, DVR’d, or watched online, because, after all, we are all weirdly obsessed with this thing called Facebook. And while the interview proved insightful and interesting, it lingered in our minds. The meeting was, in a way, a clash of the titans: traditional vs. digital.

Spin Sucks covered the PR backlash of Facebook failing to let “60 Minutes” have the “exclusive” they promised. Maybe there was miscommunication between the two entities. Maybe “60 Minutes” overvalued the new profile aspect of the interview. Maybe they should have promoted something different, like Zuckerberg’s feelings on the movie “The Social Network.” Either way, there was a disconnect between what Facebook’s intention was, what 60 Minutes expected, and why the audience tuned in.

From my perspective, Zuckerberg took the opportunity to face the public about a few things, including the continuing controversy surrounding the Winklevoss twins, privacy issues, and how he has adapted from a “toddler CEO” to the very obvious and talented leader of a young-yet-behemoth company.

Let’s be honest – Facebook makes changes ALL the time, so “exclusively” showing “60 Minutes” their new profile pages was the last thing they were worried about. And if we really are being frank, Zuckerberg did “60 Minutes” a favor by even appearing on their show.

“60 Minutes,” on the other hand, valued the “exclusive” glimpse into the new profile pages as their main story feature. The show prides itself on continually getting the “in,” like having the only interview with a controversial politician or getting a behind-the-scenes look at a new Broadway production.

The show constantly provides newsworthy stories, which is most definitely why they wanted the “in” with Facebook. So they jumped on the bandwagon, but failed to change their style to serve a new age company. A square peg in a round hole, if you will.

In truth, it is something that we’ve been seeing a lot: how traditional media outlets are handling the unavoidable digital media overhaul. “60 Minutes” has had decades to perfect their style and strategy. Maybe this was the first time they were confronted with working with a company that wouldn’t conform to their longstanding ways.

It goes to show that, with the digital evolution of all media, weight has definitely shifted. While the lines have always been blurry between advertising, marketing, and public relations, the digital overhaul has completely swirled them together.

It might seem unfortunate for traditional entities, but the tables have drastically turned. This “online stuff” is more than just trendy. It’s officially moved in and made itself at home.

So sorry, “60 Minutes,” but Facebook stole your thunder.

Wake up, folks. Digital media has gained the upper hand, so conforming to the new ways is the only way to survive: One must evolve, or die.

Jocelyn Rimbey is a Digital Marketing Manager for The Cyphers Agency in Annapolis, Md. She has an unhealthy obsession with marketing, coffee, and high heels.

  • DanielleDestradeAli

    I totally agree, Jocelyn. This wasn’t a “PR mess” on Facebook’s part, it was an “oops” on 60 Minutes’ part. Coming from a journalism background, I feel they really missed an opportunity to prove that they know what is relevant and timely – not yet another update to Facebook, but a glimpse inside the mind of one of the most influential people on Earth right now. Way to reinforce that you are clueless when it comes to new media, “60 Minutes”.

  • @DanielleDestradeAli Thanks for that insight, Danielle. Good point regarding the missed opportunity – you are so right about that. Hopefully they learned their lesson. 🙂

  • PabloEdwards

    I would agree… This is a very interesting interview by Zuckerberg, and he really did steal every bit of the thunder.

  • Zuckerberg did “60 Minutes” a favor by even appearing on their show.

    Bingo. It definitely seemed to me that 60 Minutes wanted Zuckerberg a lot more than he wanted them. I am sure he saw it as a great opportunity to reach a whole new demographic and attain countless new visitors, but ultimately he was in control.

    I like how you looked deeper into this and pointed out the noticeable shift in momentum to the side of new media. I didn’t think much about this after watching the special, so thanks for adding a new angle for me to ponder upon!

  • ginidietrich

    @JocelynRimbey @DanielleDestradeAli I still think Facebook offered 60 Minutes an exclusive and then backed out, but the point about how 60 Minutes should have taken a different slant is very well taken!

  • Doug_Davidoff


    Great insight. I see businesses of all shapes and size really struggling with this symptom – in all it’s manifestations. I’m convinced one reason that “old media” still have figured out the model is because they think of the Internet, social media, etc. as “new” media. We’d all be better off if we dropped the adjectives, looked at the world from our customers eyes and went about being compelling.

    Thanks for the thoughts – and hey, you’re in my neck of the woods. Nice to see an Annapolitan contributing!

  • @JonHeartyJonHearty. So glad for your insight, Jon. Happy I could bring a new insight to the table.

  • @Doug_DavidoffDoug_Davidoff. Thanks, Doug! it is great to be contributing. And I agree with you – I think we need to move past what is “new” or “trendy” and just look at what IS. We’ve all got a lot of work to meet in the middle, but I think it can, and will, happen.

  • DanielleDestradeAli

    @ginidietrichginidietrich. @JocelynRimbeyJocelynRimbey. I’m not a PR pro so I don’t know how it typically works, but I find it hard to believe that Facebook would offer an exclusive on a website change. If anything, it was a miscommunication about what the “exclusive” was – they probably were offering an exclusive on interviewing Mark since that doesn’t happen often and he hasn’t offered his opinion on The Social Network movie yet. Do you think its possible that 60 Minutes just jumped on the website change as a focus for their story without an exclusivity offer from Facebook?