I typically don’t feel much sympathy for corporate executives who get quoted saying nasty, hateful and despicable things in the media, because normally, the executives said these things in front of a reporter and the comments were fair game, or the statements were made in a public forum, like Twitter. Or public officials are caught using government email or government phones to send creepy texts that are now a part of the public record. But the hacking of private emails and computer records from Sony is a whole different matter.
I really don’t think it’s possible for any sane, normal, interesting person to have every one of his/her private emails read by the world without something wildly offensive being revealed. No, I’m not advocating hypocrisy, but there has to be some veil of privacy for people to make sarcastic remarks, cutting commentary and tasteless jokes. I would hate to think of how my enemies could make me look if every single email I ever wrote to friends were publicly revealed.
So how should people and organizations react if their emails have been outed? Sony has hired super lawyer David Boies to demand that media outlets not print the contents of the emails and Sony executives have apologized for making insensitive remarks.
Part of my job writing a media training blog is to second guess how major corporations conduct themselves in media scandals. But I’m not sure what else Sony could do in this situation. It’s not that their apologies or their legal threats are helping much (how do you un-see something you’ve already seen?), but I’m not sure there is much else to be done other than hope for public sympathy (they are getting some) and that after time, people will forget.
While I abhor censorship (meaning government stopping the publishing of certain ideas) I’m not sure it was wise of Sony executives to green light a movie about an actual leader of a country (yes I know the leader of North Korea is an evil dictator) getting assassinated. No, I’m not blaming the victim and Sony didn’t deserve to be hacked, but yes, this was asking for trouble.
How do Sony executives and people everywhere prevent their emails from being splashed on news sites? I’m not sure there is an answer other than never writing anything interesting in an email, or using a Gmail or old AOL email account where your name isn’t identifiable (even that isn’t foolproof).
TJ Walker, president of Media Training Worldwide https://www.mediatrainingworldwide.com, is a public speaking training coach and media trainer to executives around the world. If you would like a personalized media or presentation training programs, please call him to discuss your needs. Call +1.212.764.4955 today.