Flirting with Disaster…

The SXSW (South by Southwest Interactive Conference) interview, March 9th, Austin Texas.  This was no ordinary interview, chosen Business Week Journalist Sarah Lacy was to interview keynote speaker Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook.
I would like to be nice and feel sorry for Sarah, but the utter truth is this interview was a “trainwreck”. Because of Mark’s shy, nature it was uncomfortable for Sarah from the beginning because of her way of “personally” interviewing him. Throughout the interview she dropped self-references, and had a “flirty” style of discussion (body language says it all), further she enjoyed talking about her relationship with Mark as an interviewer, more than asking him questions about Facebook or the like.

It didn’t stop there however; Sarah did not connect with the audience on any level. Sarah in my opinion created an adversarial relationship with audience. At one point the crown became so upset and vicious with her she responded to the crowd by saying “You don’t know how hard my job is up here” and she said “I am trying to ask interesting questions .you think you guys can do any better?” After asking the audience to come ask their questions, she said to the audience: “If you think I suck so bad why don’t you send me an e-mail?” The next audience member then responded by saying: “what’s your e-mail address?” At this point the roar from the crowd was out of control. She begins speaking of his journal that he writes about his ideas for Facebook and that she heard that he burns them, and Zuckerberg says “I don’t burn them” He proceeds by saying “You have to ask questions”, if you watch the video you’ll hear the crowd roar and clap in Zuckerbergs favor. At one point in this utter disaster (supposedly an interview), she says “You’ve seen me throw a full glass of water at Michael Errington, I just want to warn you” Zuckerberg reaches for the bottle of water, and places it on the floor. What else could possibly go wrong?

There are two sides to every story right? or shall we call it “crisis management”?
Throughout the interview both Sarah and Mark took two completely different routes if you will. A few days after the interview both Zuckerberg and Lacy responded on her Twitter message by responding “Seriously screw all you guys. I did my best to ask a range of things.” This is clearly not the way to manage crisis, despite all of the criticism she received from the audience and bloggers days after the interview.

Zuckerberg, took a much more humble approach, he held a Q & A session , with a little humor Zuckerberg began the Q & A by saying “Yesterday’s Q & A wasn’t enough fun”. The audience asked him about privacy issues and where Facebook as a social network sees its self in the near future.

This keynote interview, had two sides to the story. Look at how Lacy responded on her Twitter message with a cold shoulder, and look at how Zuckerberg held a Q & A and humbled himself.

Was Lacy handed “the pink slip” after this interview?Unfortunately not.
Do you think Sarah Lacy learned her lesson? To be brutally honest with you, NO!

Zach Katkin
Zach Katkin
Zach Katkin is the co-founder & CEO of Atilus. He is a Certified Google Professional, author, and lover of technology. He helps Atilus stay out ahead of online marketing trends and loves driving results for Atilus' clients.

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Recent Comments | 2 Comments
  • Debbie

    excellent blog, Z! was this a quality interview about Facebook and Zuckerberg, or was this a platform for
    Sarah Lacy to get attention? I too, think Zuckerberg handled the interview with much poise, and alot more patience than I would have shown! Very interesting- thanks Z!!!!

  • Scott L Clark

    Great video! And great coverage of such a media disaster, Zach B! I have never seen this video, and I have always had great respect and admiration for Mark Zuckerberg, but he certainly impressed me more here with his on going poise, focus and intelligent delivery of what is most important to his viewers throughout this debacle.

    Excellent post Zach B!

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