Bob Parsons shoots elephants and his business reputation

Online reputation management is a huge issue right now but here’s a crash course you need to nail on your office wall: 1. If you engage in blood sports keep it private 2. If you engage in blood sports do not link your company name to it 3. If you violate rules 1 & 2 do not then use childish arguments to justify what you did.

Bob Parsons has made a name for himself by being Texan and the CEO of hosting and domain name company GoDaddy. To his credit he has always blogged about his business practices and what he does and has always linked GoDaddy to his off-work activities.

I know Texas is the kind of place where nature is still a little ‘red in claw and tooth’ but that hardly explains his lapse of judgement when off to hunt some elephant in Africa (I kid you not!) he Tweeted about it and provided a link to his video showing the whole thing.

The expected backlash did not take long to follow. PETA came out swinging, hundreds of domain name holders started to move their sites off GoDaddy and Bob was left with a number of explanations which started to sound all the more lame with the passing of days.

Shooting elephants is socially frowned upon but, within context, not illegal. Shooting them for sport and trying to say otherwise however is career suicide.

Bob Parsons and GoDaddy are no strangers to controversy of course and in time this storm will blow over despite the many websites which have devoted webpage space to it.

If there is a moral which must be drawn however it is this. In the age of the web the line between our private activities and our professional lives is becoming increasingly blurred. The web has made it possible to take the ‘networking’ idea of a roomful of people meeting socially to discuss business and made it a powerful means of global marketing. That’s great for business but such reach does not come without a price.

Suddenly none of those who live online has the luxury of being ‘private’. This is difficult enough given the ubiquitous nature of mobile phones with high-resolution cameras and videos but it becomes nearly impossible if you also participate in the process by helping to publicise your behaviour in this way.

That Bob Parsons made a mistake in this is beyond question. His handling of the fallout will determine just how much damage he has inflicted on his company.