The Sony email scandal that rocked Hollywood not only threatened the careers of prominent Hollywood executives, but also prompted a national conversation about freedom of speech and the persistent threat of terrorism in the United States. In a White House speech on December 21, President Obama added his thoughts, stating that he believes Sony made a mistake when it cancelled the satirical film, “The Interview.”


What began as an embarrassing email leak featuring Sony executives behaving (and writing) badly has turned into a worldwide discussion about our national identity. Ever unwilling to compromise our freedoms, Americans across the country were stunned to learn that North Korea managed to halt the release of a Hollywood movie. Actor George Clooney scorned all of Hollywood after he failed to gain a single signature on the petition he created to encourage the release of the film.


Kim Jong-un Picture

The Independent

Sony claims their decision not to release the film came as a result of movie theaters refusing to show the film, but critics believe that Sony dropped the film out of fear. In his remarks, President Obama noted that Sony’s caving to cyber-terrorists sends a dangerous message to those with similar intentions. The President went on to say that he wish he’d been contacted by Sony before they made their decision. It was shocking to learn that he hadn’t been contacted by Sony, and it begs the question: Who was advising Sony on these matters?


Sony has hired crisis expert Judy Smith to lead the studio’s crisis communications activities. One after another, businesses and corporations wait until weeks after a crisis emerges to hire a team of crisis professionals, long after their respective scandals have peaked. The Sony scandal is a reminder of why it is important to act quickly in a crisis. Without guidance, corporations often make mistakes early in a crisis — ‘early’ being the most critical time frame in which to respond appropriately. President Obama, of course, has plenty of experience with crises that play out in the public, but his team doesn’t have the best track record of responding immediately or even appropriately in a crisis.


Still, the President was right to denounce Sony’s decision not to release “The Interview.” Then again, it may have been too much to expect appropriate behavior when referring to a movie studio led by several executives who have only a marginal grasp of ethical communications practices and almost no grasp of English grammar.


What do you think about Sony’s decision to pull The Interview? Leave your insights in the comments section or tweet me @nataliepetitto