You can bet there are some c-suite executives at Sony this week with sweaty palms.
The decision was taken this morning to cancel the Christmas release of “The Interview” which depicts the assassination of Korean President Kim Jong-un. The events are the outcome of a major hacker attack on Sony, and now, terrorist threats against moviegoers who plan to attend the Christmas Day premier of the movie. As of Tuesday the posts of the hackers, who call themselves “Guardians of Peace” have become threatening, warning moving goers to stay home, posting “those who seek fun in terror should be doomed to it”.
An interesting moral dilemma for Sony. Give into terrorists or potentially put the public at risk. And the impacts go beyond movie goers. Shareholders are feeling the impact as Sony’s stock has plunged more than 10 percent since the beginning of last week after Tuesday evening, one major cinema chain, Carmike Cinemas, the fourth-largest cinema chain in the country, decided to cancel its planned showings of the film “The Interview” .
Sony has come under attack from both fronts, both of the controversial material that’s being leaks and from experts criticizing the corporations handling of the situation.
It’s the type of corporate dilemma that has Corporations define themselves. They can come out the victim or the hero. Here are three key principles corporations can use when faced with the moral dilemma involving their customers.
1. Take full responsibility. Responsibility and blame is not the same thing. And moviegoers need to know that Sony considers threats to their safety a paramount consideration. It is moments like these, when corporations stand on the brink of disaster that make or break how the public sees them. One of the best examples of “doing it right” was how Tylenol scandal in 1982 where Tylenol pills were found laced with cyanide. The company immediately took responsibility recalled their product and introduced 3 levels of safety seals to protect their buyers. That launched them to being one of the dominant players in the pharmaceutical industry. Sony’s step toward cancelling the release is applaudable. While it may impact their bottom line in the short run, the hard stand that they will not put the public at risk shows strong leadership.
2. Apologize. Again, we often mistake apology for admission of guilt. The two are not the same. Sony can apologize for the risk (real or perceived) that moviegoers and shareholders are now facing. Which is that Sony did not maintain secure systems and took some risk and now moviegoers are being put in a decision of having to decide whether to risk their lives to see a movie. When BP did not apologize for their Louisiana spill until late in the game, their inaction was preceived as arrogance.
3. Take charge in finding the solution. When threat becomes imminent, consumers need to know that “the big faceless corporations” care. We often believe that Corporation don’t have a soul. Corporations are run by people. And those people need to show they care. So develop the strategy that allows moviegoers safety and does not give into terrorist threats.
Sony has the opportunity to be the victim or the hero. And their next actions will define which is it.
Teresa de Grosbois is a 3-time bestselling author who speaks across the globe on the topics of influence and business. Visit Teresa’s website at www.WildfireWS.com.