Sacco worked for IAC, the company that owns TheDailyBeast.com, Match.com, About.com, CollegeHumor.com and other sites. She left for a vacation to South Africa, the country where she was born, and sent the following disturbing Tweet:
There are three lessons a leader can draw from this sad and troubling story and its still unfolding aftermath:
1) Flip attempts at humor built around insensitivity to race and/or serious health epidemics are wholly inappropriate. Incredibly, Sacco offended on both topics in the same Tweet.
2) What you say on Twitter represents your organization, no matter how far away from the job you are when you post it (this goes doubly for PR/Communications Executives, who really should know better).
3) The stark and simple truth is that every word you write online has the potential to be seen by thousands—in this case, millions—in the blink of an eye.
There is, fortunately, somewhat of a silver lining in this sad situation.
Somebody registered the domain justinesacco.com, and made it a mirror site for Aid for Africa. Sacco’s actions have now turned into a genuine awareness and fundraising campaign for some of the NGOs doing great work in Africa.
And therein lies another lesson: When a topic starts drawing digital attention, even for negative reasons, leaders can often steer the conversation in an instant to direct widespread attention towards something more positive, helpful, and human.
For her part, Sacco has issued an apology. We’ll have to wait and see if she gets a chance to write her own next chapter, or if she has communicated herself out of the industry.