On Sunday night, “60 Minutes” had Mark Zuckerberg on to discuss the new Facebook layout and changes. It was pretty funny to watch people on Facebook before it aired – everyone was waiting for the game to end so they could watch “60 Minutes.” And then, of course, we all discussed it during and after the show. It was fun and a great sense of community.
It was interesting to see that Zuckerberg still rarely blinks (how does he do that?), that he still wears a t-shirt, even for a nationally televised interview, and that he’s now gone from Internet child to brilliant master, in the minds of the Baby Boomer reporters.
Lesley Stahl spent a lot of time talking about the new layout Facebook was launching “tomorrow,” meaning yesterday. Zuckerberg walked her through the changes and what they meant to Facebook users. The way the story was presented made it sound like “60 Minutes” was to announce the new changes and we’d all get the new layout on Monday.
After the episode ended, I wrote on my Facebook wall, “Do you think ’60 Minutes’ is mad we got the new Facebook layout before it appeared on their show?”
Because I changed my layout on Sunday…and so did a lot of my friends. So they actually rolled it out before “60 Minutes” aired, even though it was mentioned at least five times during the show that it wouldn’t be rolled out until Monday.
I’ve been doing a lot of armchair quarterbacking this week and I fully admit that I don’t know why they did that or what they had agreed to with “60 Minutes.” But I do know, from experience, that promising media they’re going to have exclusivity to something and then rolling it out after your show is taped, but before it airs, is bad, bad, bad. I even commented on Facebook that I would not want to be their PR people right now.
My guess is “60 Minutes” will never agree to do another exclusive announcement with Facebook again. And I wouldn’t blame them. But you know who will take the flack for this? Their PR team. The next time they want “60 Minutes” and can’t get them, it won’t be because they ruined their credibility this past Sunday. The executives will sit in their offices and claim it’s because the PR professional working with the producers at CBS isn’t doing his or her job correctly.
Sure, the PR team could have promised the announcement of the new layout to “60 Minutes” without confirming it with the techs and the executive team, who rolled it out on Sunday. And, if that happened, they should be fired.
But if everyone was in agreement that Lesley Stahl got to announce it and they’d roll it out on Monday, they need to take a long, hard look at how they’re presenting their brand because that just makes it seem like they’re too arrogant to care who they roll over on their way to domination. They aren’t the only powerful company in this country. It would take one or two of this kind of situation with powerful media and it could be the beginning of their long demise.
Times have changed and news now happens in real-time in the form of bloggers and citizen journalists. But if you’ve given an outlet (TV, radio, blog, magazine, newspaper, etc.) exclusivity to announce something new you’re doing, for heaven’s sakes, don’t roll it out before they have the chance to run their story. It’s not ethical, it’s rude, and it demeans your own credibility.