Brad Williams had an enviable public relations job a couple of months ago when he became PR head of coupon giant Groupon, but it didn’t last long. After only a couple of months, Williams quit.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Williams didn’t say anything except that he and Groupon “mutually decided it wasn’t a fit.” But Ragan’s PR Daily fills in some of the blanks. Groupon CEO Andrew Mason got thin skinned when media criticized some of Groupon’s ways of measuring results, and he sent a memo to employees lambasting the media.
Any competent PR professional would have advised Mason that such a memo to employees would quickly leak to media, and that it’s rarely a great plan to criticize how media cover you.
But there may have been an even bigger problem: Violation of the legally required “quiet period” preceding a stock offering. When you’re about to have an IPO, as Groupon did, the Securities & Exchange Commission mandates a “quiet period” in which you don’t say anything that might affect the stock price.
Now and then, you’ll find a CEO who thinks the PR director is just a hack to be kicked around. But in a publicly traded company (or one that is about to be), sound public relations counsel is critical to success.
Says Ragan: “The lesson is that PR leaders are like any other senior managers in a company: They are hired for a reason. Executives across industries need only to look at the Groupon situation to see why the PR talent they’ve hired is so important.”