As a senior level executive of any size organization, shouldn’t the executive have a right to a private life where he or she chooses to behave the way they want? Sure. But rest assured, there are consequences in the age of social media. Last week, CEO Bob Parsons of GoDaddy.com experienced this with the immediate backlash to his elephant killing Safari video on YouTube. After a spark of stories and blogs reported on the video – including outraged animal activist groups and disgusted GoDaddy.com clients – Parsons and the GoDaddy.com PR team were uncharacteristically silent. Finally, Parsons broke his silence and tried to explain his behavior and the reason for the video – saving the Zimbabwe crop farmers and families.
This isn’t the first time Parsons has illicited controversy – think back to his racy Super Bowl commercials. However, anger fueled by the video is likely to harm the brand’s reputation as the No. 1 Internet domain name company. On Friday, Peter Shankman, a very well respected PR/social media guru, blasted Parsons for his actions and pulled all 400 of his domain listings from GoDaddy.com.
Despite my personal feelings on the video, I am a big believer in filtering my posts, no matter the social medium. I have very strong political beliefs; however, out of respect to my colleagues, clients and industry friends, I do not use use social media to push out my personal agenda. Some may view this as wimpy or wishy-washy, but as a partner in a public relations agency, I see it as a smart approach to preventing brand and revenue backlash to dissenting opinions. Either Parsons acted recklessly or his actions were purposeful to promote GoDaddy.com. Either way, he should have first consulted with his PR team, who are now left cleaning up the mess.