While it’s hard not to take pleasure in anyone telling Michael Arrington the way it is, Yahoo! CEO Carol Bartz’s run-in and f-bomb dropping with Arrington earlier this week at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference undoubtedly made PR folks squeamish.
But it got me thinking. A few year’s ago, you could wrap this one into a case study for how not to fall for a reporter’s baiting. You don’t see on camera that Arrington asked Bartz if her marketing pitch about Yahoo’s strengths relative to rival Google was “BS.” After-all this is what Arrington wanted to get from Bartz. A public, unsavory reaction that could draw more attention to his interview and the conference.
He got it and more, but was it a PR #fail for Yahoo!? While there were those who quickly berated Bartz for her comments as too publicly defensive, rough, knee-jerk and unbuttoned, others were quick to back her comments as “refreshing.”
At the very least her passion for defending Yahoo! bears resemblance to the passionate way Steve Jobs defends Apple. Yes, he’s not dropping f-bombs on camera in public settings, but it is refreshing to see CEO’s so passionate about their company’s position that they respond to questions, without vetting their words through their team and consultants. And the media, traditional or otherwise, love it.
I’m not saying executives should go off their rocker like this more often (not everyone has Jobs or Bartz make-up or power), but sometimes being yourself in the right moment can come across as a positive thing in the social media age. Every company wants and needs to be reputable, believable and trustworthy in the digital age – should executives be any different??