Rep. Anthony Weiner’s social media and telephone sexual innuendo escapades were the major news issue on Monday, and remain in the headlines today. It’s one more example of public officials behaving badly, lying about their behavior and thinking that somehow in the “gotcha” world, no one will find out. Whether constituents – not to mention his own party and the House leadership – forgive and forget Weiner remains to be seen. Our take on this will come in discussions on how to prevent the next leader from doing something stupid.
The more important crisis this week involves RSA Security, one of the biggest players in our interconnected, web world of commerce and communication. This is a case of a company and a CEO stepping up to responsibilities.
RSA, which makes SecurID – security tokens that allow “secure” access to computer networks – has been involved in a number of hacking episodes that date back to this March. The most recent hacking appeared to have impacted Lockheed Martin, so much so that Art Coviello, Executive Chairman of RSA, has offered to replace the security token for any customer who is concerned about their products. Coviello used the front page of the company web site to send an open letter to customers. Sure there may be some culpability on the part of RSA, but its actions appear to be responsible and transparent.
So, if Art Coviello were to advise Rep. Weiner, here’s what he might say:
- When you find out about a problem, let your customers (constituents) know what you know about it as soon as possible.
- Don’t discuss more than you know or speculate.
- When you learn new information provide an update.
- Reputation is a very fragile commodity. Once you lose that, your trust, customers and constituencies can go away very quickly.