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How Entrata can survive its founder’s weird anti-Jewish screed in an era where public image is everything

Richard Levick spoke to The Business of Business about the recent controversy surrounding the real estate software company Entrata, and how the situation is being handled from a public relations standpoint.

It’s among the worst nightmares for a board of directors: Their company is rolling along nicely – growing market share, building profits, preparing to go public – when suddenly a top executive goes rogue and posts an offensive social media message or sends a noxious email that becomes public and threatens to forever associate the company with the unpleasant statements.

That’s what happened recently to Entrata, a Utah-based real estate software company that became embroiled in scandal when its founder and chairman fired off an email to business leaders and elected officials full of antisemitic screeds and unfounded government and corporate conspiracies. The email was picked up by local and national press, including the Wall Street Journal, and loudly condemned in many circles.

But what could have been a reputation killer and a disaster for the company might ultimately be a defining moment for its current leadership and, according to at least one top corporate crisis manager, may go down as a textbook example of how companies should respond when confronted with a potential catastrophe.

“It may be a bit too early to know if this is going to be a classic case study in leadership,” said Richard Levick, chairman and CEO of LEVICK, a public relations and crisis communications firm in Washington DC. “But it sure looks like it.”

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