Sitrick and Company’s Jim Bates on Facebook Founder’s Image

Status update: Facebook founder “friends” new image

By Alexei Oreskovic – Reuters

SAN FRANCISCO – At a conference six months ago, Facebook’s 26-year-old chief executive was literally dripping in sweat as he fielded tough questions about his company’s privacy practices and a forthcoming movie portraying him as manipulative and arrogant.

On Wednesday, a poised, perspiration-free portrait of Mark Zuckerberg graced the cover of Time magazine, which crowned him its Person of the Year, capping what may be one of corporate America’s most remarkable transformations.

The make-over of Zuckerberg’s public image has been hard to miss, with a high-profile donation to New Jersey public schools in September and appearances on television programs like “The Oprah Winfrey Show” and “60 Minutes.” It has occurred as Facebook, the world’s No. 1 Internet social network, sees its audience of “friends” and its influence swell.

“One of the things he’s done is he’s made a conscious move to not let somebody else define who he is, but to go out and sort of let people know who he is,” said Jim Bates, of the crisis communications firm Sitrick and Company, which has helped rehabilitate the images of such clients as R&B singer Chris Brown and celebrity socialite Paris Hilton.

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