03 Jul Front Page Execs: #KeepFamiliesTogether
Last week, executives of the world’s top companies spoke out on the separation of migrant children from their parents. In this edition of Front Page Execs, we’ll examine how three influential executives from two particular companies handled the situation: Lyft’s co-founders John Zimmer and Logan Green, and Uber’s CEO Dara Khosrowshahi.
The world’s largest ride-sharing apps are surprisingly deeply entwined with ethics and public relations. In the case of Lyft, which has been self-described by co-founder John Zimmer as ‘woke,’ their branding relies on an image of morality. This image emerged partly in response to the brand image of their rival Uber, which has historically struggled with the public’s perception of their ethics.
As a result, these companies’ executives play a crucial role on social media as an empathetic face for their brands. Both brands recently made headlines when they leveraged their executives’ social media profiles to speak out on the same important and timely topic, but in vastly different ways.
Without a doubt, the separation of migrant families at the border dominated the news last week. On Twitter, many users urged the government to take action, causing the hashtag #KeepFamiliesTogether to trend. Executives of some of the largest American companies also participated in spreading the word, including Mark Zuckerberg, Tim Cook, and Sundar Pichai.
Lyft co-founders John Zimmer and Logan Green took the support a step further by announcing on their Twitter profiles that Lyft would be offering free transportation to 12 organizations helping families separated at the border.
We are taking action to help the families and children that are being unjustly separated at the border by offering @Lyft Relief Rides to 12 organizations (including @RAICESTEXAS, @TXCivilRights, @supportKIND) #KeepFamiliesTogether
— John Zimmer (@johnzimmer) June 19, 2018
We are taking action to help the families and children that are being unjustly separated at the border by offering Lyft Relief Rides to 12 organizations (including @RAICESTEXAS, @TXCivilRights,@supportKIND) #KeepFamiliesTogether
— Logan Green (@logangreen) June 19, 2018
The tweets are simple, but effective. The post copy uses active voice and is straight to the point. Not only does the copy unhesitantly proclaim that Lyft will take action, it proves itself by citing concrete examples of companies they will be helping. With just a single tweet each, these co-founders were effectively represented as strong-willed, generous, and passionate leaders who aren’t afraid to act. Lyft has been overshadowed by its rival Uber in terms of size and popularity since its inception, and this executive messaging effectively drives towards the brand’s overall goal of becoming more established and prominent in the industry.
Meanwhile, Uber famously had troubles with its controversial CEO Travis Kalanick last year, and it’s no secret that its new CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, faces a lot of pressure to become a more appealing face of the company. Less than two hours before the Lyft co-founders’ tweets were posted, Khosrowshahi addressed the issue in a different, yet equally effective, way.
As a father, a citizen and an immigrant myself, the stories coming from our border break my heart. Families are the backbone of society. A policy that pulls them apart rather than building them up is immoral and just plain wrong. #KeepFamiliesTogether https://t.co/g2Cu40zvcX
— dara khosrowshahi (@dkhos) June 19, 2018
Khosrowshahi focused less on the actions his company will take, but rather on his own compassion. He describes himself in the tweet not as a distant CEO, but as “a father, a citizen and an immigrant” who is personally connected to the situation. However, while compassionate, Khosrowshahi does not come across as feeble, as he finishes by strongly stating that the policy is “immoral and just plain wrong.” Khosrowshahi was praised by many media outlets for his sincerity when addressing the issue.
Uber and Lyft both demonstrated last week that vastly different messaging can be equally effective even when responding to the same situation, as long as it still drives toward the brand’s overall objectives.