Justine Sacco, PR exec for media conglomerate IAC, was not surprisingly terminated from her job after tweeting” Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!”
Unbeknownst to Sacco, while she jetting across the world, so was her tweet. It was re-tweeted until it hit the mainstream media causing a firestorm she wasn’t even aware of until she landed. Of course, when someone does something as, well stupid as this, the fallout is inevitable. First the a disassociation by her employer that her comments don’t represent the company; then an over the top apology from the tweeter (hoping it will all go away); and then the firing. All of which happened in a matter of hours.
What surprises me about Ms. Sacco and this entire escapade is not that she (whom admittedly I don’t know and never heard of) made such a crude and idiotic comment, but how people with such little common sense and professionalism are given PR jobs at high levels. If anyone should have known the power of the internet, especially when someone says stupid things, it should be a PR exec, right? Further, when the story broke people started digging into her past tweets and found such doozies as: “I had a sex dream about an autistic kid last night,” and “I can’t be fired for things I say while intoxicated right?” Her profile statement on her now defunct Twitter account described her as “Corpcomm at IAC. Troublemaker on the side. Also known for my loud laugh.”
Is this woman in third grade?
It is disturbing that major corporations entrust their PR to people who not only lack common sense, but who are clueless about the media their are supposed to master. And certainly making it all the worse is that she would actually harbor those sentiments and say those things that are about as insensitive and cruel as one can get.
I have to believe that if someone at her company wanted to dispatch that tweet, she would jump up and prevent him/her from hitting the send button. It’s bad PR she would counsel. But when she is walking through an airport, presumably thrilled to be making this trip, she leaves her professionalism and common sense at the gate and acts like a giggly kid snapchatting with a a classmate.
Sacco hurt more than her career, she hurt the entire PR profession. We are in a never-ending batter for credibility with the media and our clients who put their faith and trust in us. For someone to abuse the very medium she is supposed to understand will have repercussions far greater than her now defunct career.