In-house PR for Facebook can be a lucrative gig. It’s also one of the toughest PR jobs in the tech sector, especially over the past year or so. Facebook has been in the news the next thing to constantly, and not because everyone seems to love their service and use it multiple times every day.
Instead, Facebook has faced questions about user privacy, account security, proliferating fake news, and abetting foreign “bad actors” looking to influence U.S. politics. This latter issue has forced Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to spend a good deal of time over the past year answering questions before congress.
Now, the news out of San Francisco is that two of Facebook’s top PR leaders are leaving the company, stepping down while the social media giant is still in the throes of turmoil thanks to the repeated public relations trouble.
Caryn Marooney quit last Wednesday, resigning her position leading Facebook’s communications group after eight years working for the company. About the same time, it was confirmed that Facebook VP of Global Communications, Debbie Frost, is also leaving the company. Frost confirmed these reports but also said company leadership had been aware for some time.
At least publicly, the splits seems amicable. Marooney told the press that she plans to “work with (Zuckerberg) on finding a replacement for her position.
On her way out the door, Marooney offered this: “It’s time to get back to my roots… (though) I have more faith in Facebook than ever… There is so much good happening on Facebook and the entire family of apps every day. And for our challenges — we have plans in place and the right people working on them.”
A very positive and complimentary message from a person headed out the door. That led some to wonder if, just maybe, Marooney was laying it on a bit too thick. Were there some issues inside Facebook’s communications department? If they have the right people and plans in place, the narrative went, why is Marooney leaving? And why is Frost moving on now, if she’s had this in mind for some time.
For Marooney, there was a possible clue, at least for the critics and speculators. In her departure message, she mentioned Nick Clegg, saying that, now that he’s “settled in” as the head of global affairs and communications, the time was right to move on. Not much to go on, but plenty to start the speculation train moving faster along the tracks.
For Facebook, though, the big question is, with these changes, what direction will their public image go next?
Ronn Torossian is the CEO and Founder of 5WPR.