1. DON'T say your yoga-wear company missed product flaws because it skipped the "bend over" test.
2. DON'T compare criticism of your employees' bonuses following a more than $100 billion bailout to lynching.
3. DON'T pose questions that leave you open to withering ridicule.
It all started as a way for college students to ask one of JPMorgan's longest tenured and most prominent executives, Jimmy Lee, about "leadership & career advice." People would tweet their questions and Lee would respond using the @jpmorgan Twitter account. The night before the scheduled "#TwitterTakeover," the hashtag was flooded with harsh criticism and snark: "How do you decide who to foreclose on? Darts or a computer program? #AskJPM" and "Do you have a secret jail in your offices so your executives get at least one chance to see the inside of one? #AskJPM" or even "I have Mortgage Fraud, Market Manipulation, Credit Card Abuse, Libor Rigging and Predatory Lending AM I DIVERSIFIED? #AskJPM." After literally thousands of negative tweets, JPMorgan pulled the plug, "#Bad idea! Back to the drawing board!" a JPMorgan spokesman said.
4. DON'T compare an executive change to 9/11.
5. DON'T say that women can't be good hedge fund traders just because they have kids.
6. DON'T run a food drive for your own employees.
7. DON'T fire someone for taking a picture during a conference call announcing layoffs.
8. DON'T just tweet about basketball while 3,000 people are stranded without power or functioning toilets on a ship your cruise company operates.
While the Carnival cruise ship Triumph was stranded off the coast of Alabama, felled by an engine-room fire that left the boat and its most than 3,000 passengers without electricity, air conditioning, or functioning toilets, the CEO and chairman of the vacation conglomerate, Carnival Corporation & PLC, Mickey Arison, was in Miami watching the basketball team he owns, Miami Heat play the Portland Trail Blazers — and tweeting about it. Arison remained mum about the unfolding disaster. He would resign as CEO in June, but hang on to his chairmanship. The Heat, however, won their second straight NBA championship.
9. DON'T make it that much easier for harassers to abuse your product without the victims knowing.
10. DON'T say gay people are banned from your pasta company's advertisements and respond by saying, "They can always eat another brand of pasta."
11. DON'T release a totally meh product when your company is on the line.
12. DON'T use the media to fight with your fellow company board members, especially after the guy you chose to run that company just lost more than a quarter of its business in 17 months.
13. DON'T publicly advise your employees that they should get a second job to support themselves.
14. DON'T be more open about changing your logo than on whether or not your email service is working.
Yahoo spent a month painstakingly rolling out its new logo, until finally revealing it in a Tumblr post written by Marissa Mayer. Three months later, its email service, which also underwent a Mayer-supervised revamp over the summer, went out. The outage affected a huge portion of Yahoo Mail's 100 million users. The Yahoo Mail outage was a particular problem for Mayer, a product development whiz who was brought in to save Yahoo by revamping its web offerings to win back users who had fled the company. Even worse, Yahoo was spotty in responding to user complaints and informing the public about how widespread the outage was and how long it would last, with Mayer eventually apologizing, as usual, on Tumblr.
15. DON'T shell out $155 million for a painting after your hedge fund paid $616 million to settle insider trading accusations.
After SAC — the hedge fund he founded, runs, and whose name is formed by his initials — paid $616 million to settle insider trading charges, Steve Cohen didn't lie low or put a check on his conspicuous consumption, he instead purchased Picasso's "Le Rêve" from casino billionaire Steve Wynn for $155 million. A source told the New York Post that the painting was "a gift to himself." While Cohen had not and still is not charged criminally with insider trading, the firm plead guilty to insider trading, paid another $1.2 billion, and agreed to shut down its outside investing business.
16. DON'T send tweets that mock minimum-wage workers, women, and use the N-word, especially if you're the CTO of a media company.
Pax Dickinson was ousted as chief technology officer at Business Insider in September after Valleywag wrote about the stunningly offensive tweets the executive regularly posted.
One such example, from July 2010: "Who has more dedication, ambition, and drive? Kobe only raped one girl, Lebron raped an entire city. +1 for Lebron." He was forced to resign. Business Insider CEO Henry Blodget said the tweets "do not reflect our values and have no place at our company."
17. DON'T fire someone who has $8 million worth of dirt on you.
When Fox fired its longtime PR chief Brian Lewis in July, the company said he was responsible for "financial irregularities" along with "multiple, material and significant breaches of his employment contract." That didn't stop the cable giant from reaching a settlement that Gawker pegged at $8 million. Why did Fox shell out so much? In August, Lewis's attorney said "Brian Lewis no longer has any confidentiality obligation to Newscorp or Roger Ailes" and, chillingly, "Roger Ailes and Newscorp have a lot more to fear from Brian Lewis telling the truth about them than Brian Lewis has to fear from Roger Ailes and his toadies telling lies about Brian Lewis."
Matthew Zeitlin is a business reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York. Zeitlin reports on Wall Street and big banks.
Contact Matthew Zeitlin at email@example.com.
Sapna Maheshwari is a business reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York. Maheshwari reports on retail and e-commerce.
Contact Sapna Maheshwari at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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