Today we’re glad to bring you a guest post via Laura Kelso. Laura is a co-founder of Pasta, a Bay Area startup providing public relations management solutions to tech clients. A former tech PR pro turned fledgling front-end developer, she now focuses on building smarter approaches to the management and execution of PR.
Earlier this month at PyCon 2013 — a big tech industry conference for developers — a female attendee tweeted a picture of two male attendees, publicly shaming them for making inappropriate sexist jokes. This tweet led to at least two people losing their jobs. One of them was the woman herself, who worked for SendGrid as a “developer evangelist”, and the incident has sparked heated debate about sexism in tech and attacks on all sides.
But stepping away from the commentary regarding her intentions or actions, we can learn some valuable PR lessons from the actions of a company facing fire due to the actions of an individual employee. As the title of the CEO’s public statement implies, SendGrid did an excellent job of handling a “difficult situation” by taking a stance and communicating it quickly to stakeholders.
SendGrid correctly decided that the incident required a corporate response.
The behavior of an individual employee via personal social media channels is always a gray area. Since the employee in question was officially representing the company at PyCon and her actions directly affected her responsibilities, SendGrid was correct to address the situation directly and publicly.