The Hustle

Netflix hires PR genius Rachel Whetstone to handle scandals that haven’t happened yet

Netflix dismissed communications chief Jonathan Friedland last month for an HR violation involving the N-word (trust us, it wasn’t “Netflix”). But Netflix has filled the vacant position with PR-legend Rachel Whetstone. Whetstone, who has cleaned up messes for Facebook, Uber,...


August 29, 2018

Netflix dismissed communications chief Jonathan Friedland last month for an HR violation involving the N-word (trust us, it wasn’t “Netflix”). But Netflix has filled the vacant position with PR-legend Rachel Whetstone.

Whetstone, who has cleaned up messes for Facebook, Uber, and Google, is a perfect fit for the ’Flix is it grows large enough to make enemies outside of its native industry.

A disaster pedigree

Whetstone started at Google as a senior vice president of comms and public policy, guiding the company through numerous antitrust and censorship scandals. Then she moved to Uber, where she captained PR at the ride-sharing giant during the Kalanick regime.

Hoping for a reprieve from the madness, Whetstone moved to Facebook… right before the Cambridge Analytica bomb went off. Now Whetstone’s new job is to fix the ’Flix.

Hiring the cleaner before the mess is made

Netflix may not seem as scandal-prone as her previous employers, but the company wouldn’t have hired Whetstone if it wasn’t expecting trouble.

Whetstone will step into a position vacated due to racial insensitivity just in time to ship the final season of House of Cards (whose star, Kevin Spacey, was ousted for serial sexual harassment). But Whetstone needs to sharpen her sword for even bigger challenges down the road.

DVD-rental companies don’t make many enemies. But thanks to an ambitious $13B content budget, Netflix has rapidly evolved into an international media powerhouse — and scandals gravitate to mega-media companies like millennials to brunch.

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