Did you see last week’s melee featuring the now-former CEO of Solid Eight Cloud Computing Firm, Michael Lofthouse? He went on this inexplicable and very hateful, racist rant against the family, who happened to be Asian, sitting in a neighboring table and a safe distance away at a restaurant in the Bay Area.
Lofthouse tried twice to apologize in official statements. The first one came off insincere and looked like it somebody like me wrote it. The second one, probably written by somebody who is better quality on PR, had Lofthouse profoundly apologizing for his actions and said he would now try to make amends by taking an anti-racist class and reflecting on his actions. He also made a passing reference about needing to work on his sobriety.
He not only created that racist rant but also followed that up the next morning by responding to a social media post that was vilifying him in equal angry, racist tones. Maybe he was still drunk or stoned, but that’s no excuse. I’ve been drunk before and never gone on a racist tirade like that. Racism comes out of an individual regardless of how intoxicated they are.
Worse still, Lofthouse’s rant significantly impacted a UK based consulting firm that happens to bear the same name. The company needed to post on their home page that Lofthouse has never had any affiliation with the company. So this racist Bay Area execute not only took down his cloud computing consulting company but also required another firm halfway around the world that didn’t even know the guy existed 24 hours before into Crisis PR mode.
This instance serves as a good lesson for CEOs. Keep your eye out for any possible negative news related remotely to your industry, your company’s name, or stakeholders, whether you’re directly involved or not. It may require you to put together a Crisis PR plan. That’s just the reality of how we communicate today.