Rich Becker has a thought-provoking post about the Amazon-Zappos handling of the news of their deal. CEO Jeff Bezos chose YouTube and Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh chose a blog post to break the $807 million* acquisition. He observes how both CEOs decided to handle the news-breaking themselves with the tools at hand - and distribute the information directly to their audiences.
I do wonder, where there any PR professionals involved? This is an important question, your ability to evolve your job may depend on it.
If business people decide that taking matters in their own hands is preferable to relying on mainstream media (maybe because the news in this case doesn't contain much detail, does it?), then what is the role of PR? Is it the follow up with news organizations *after* the release? Is it to research and know that detail?
The role of the public relations professional is also to help the business understand the needs of its publics. In this case, they might have suggested that a video of how Amazon got started and the simple principles that guide the organization (if that's what they were) might not provide enough information to any public - never mind Zappos employees who are now thinking about what's going to happen to them.
PR2.0 doesn't mean there is no thought put into who is affected by the news, how to inform them best, and how to help connect them with the news. Admittedly, Tony did a much better job. He answered the top three questions, and provided more detail around the agreement.
Bezos didn't fare so well. David Lidski live blogged his video at Fast Company, reminding us that the role of the reporter is that to remain skeptical and ask reality to explain itself.
If, as Rich suggests, this was an attempt at controlling the message, they probably got away with it. Newsrooms are not very crowded these days, and many reporters and journalists are asked to cover more ground with fewer resources. Where were the PR people?