Theranos: How long is too long when responding to allegations about your company?


The backstory:

Recently, the Wall Street Journal  questioned Theranos Inc.’s founder Elizabeth Holmes that her $9 billion dollar company wasn’t using its own technology. The WSJ tried to get ahold of Holmes for five months before she finally agreed to an interview this past week.

What is Theranos?

Theranos is a company that could potentially change the way blood is drawn. The theory behind Holmes’ brilliant idea is with only a small finger prink and a few drops of blood, Theranos’s technology can test for over 240 diseases ranging from cholesterol to cancer. This idea has made Holmes worth $4.5 billion dollars at only 31 years old.

However the accuracy of these tests is not conclusive and Theranos employees have reported that in 2014, only 15 tests were conducted on Theranos’ product “Edison” and the rest of the tests were conducted on other companies’ equipment.

Theranos states that its practices abide to all federal regulations and the company has not exaggerated its achievements. The company has declined to acknowledge that Edison can only perform 15 tests and will not disclose the actual number of tests Edison can do because of “trade secrets.”

So, what’s the problem?

The biggest issue with the five-month delay is why? Holmes lack of response, up until now, is very suspicious and does not make Theranos or Holmes look good. Now Holmes and Theranos have completely changed their story including the methodology about how blood is actually drawn.

According to Fortune,  “In the (Wall Street) Journal article, the newspaper notes that a sentence saying “many” of Theranos tests only require a few drops of blood was removed in recent months and that Theranos’ lawyer said the change was made for marketing accuracy. However, Theranos says the lawyer was misquoted and the company changes its website regularly.”

What Holmes should have done:

Regardless of whether or not Theranos used its own technology, Holmes should have addressed the issue five months ago. Waiting too long to address a complaint makes both Holmes and Theranos look bad and could be perceived as covering up the truth. In Holmes most recent interview with the Wall Street Journal, she claimed that Theranos will be publishing a document that would have important details regarding this issue. As great as that is, the document and Holmes response should have been five months ago and not last week.

Why responsible advocacy is important

Companies, like Theranos, need to practice responsible advocacy to regain the public’s trust.

According to Ethics In Public Relations, there are three steps companies can take to adhere to this.

  1. Consider the harms and benefits to the organization’s stakeholders that can reasonably be expected to result from the organization’s actions.
  2. Maintain respect for stakeholders and provide background information necessary to make informed decisions.
  3. Let the stakeholders know of the potential harms and benefits of any action.

10 Things I Wish I Would Have Known Before My Summer Internship

This past summer I had my first real internship at an international public relations agency in the beautiful city of San Francisco. Although I had worked other jobs before, this internship was a good introduction to my post-graduate future.

Here are ten tips I wish I would have learned before starting my internship.

  • Befriend your coworkers
    • Your coworkers are some of your greatest resources. They have more experience than you and can answer many of the questions you may have. When you start out, introduce yourself, ask them some questions on their personal life and background and connect with them on LinkedIn. It’s always nice to have people to get lunch with too!
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help
    • If you don’t know how to do something or need help, ask your coworkers or mentors. It is better to ask and correct the issue than having to start all over.
  • Put the cell phone away
    • Unless you absolutely need your phone, put it away. Some meetings may be boring and although it’s tempting to use your phone, but you should be listening and taking notes instead. Phones are distracting and you can live without it.
  • However, don’t be afraid to call people on the phone
    • For some reason, people are afraid to pick up the phone and call someone (don’t worry I get nervous too). Sometimes a short phone call is much easier than an email chain and practice makes calling strangers a lot less awkward.
  • Excel Grids are your friend
    • During my three month internship, I probably made or updated around 20 grids. Learning shortcut copy/paste tools and filtering, you can make your life a whole lot easier.
  • Your boss is a valuable resource
    • Your boss is there to help you.  Do not be afraid of him or her. If you are having an issue with a project or need guidance, just ask, but remember they are busier then you are.
  • Podcasts make commuting more exciting
    • If you have a long commute as I did, listening to music gets old really fast. Try downloading some podcasts. My personal favorite was the podcast Serial, but check out the iTunes podcast store for inspiration. There are podcasts on all sorts of different topics and most are free.
  • Bring a lunch
    • Eating out everyday (especially in a major city) can really add up. By bringing your own food, you can save money and eat what you want to eat.
  • Don’t forget to take care of yourself
    • As crazy as work gets, it still is important to get enough sleep and exercise. According to the Mayo Clinc, those who exercise regularly have a lower chance of developing diseases, have more energy and are in a better mood.
  • You are a valuable asset
    • Even though you may feel useless at times since you are just an intern, don’t. You are special and there is a reason you were hired. You have to start somewhere. Don’t ever forget that.


photo Unlike traditional industries, technology is ever-changing. New companies and products are blossoming literally overnight.

This blog will highlight some of these movers and shakers in the industry and how public relations can help guide these organizations to success.

Here are 5 reasons why you should read this blog:

  1. Are you interested in or work in Public Relations?
    1. Whether you are a student still in school or already work in PR, this blog will cover important public relations tips and discuss current events in the PR field.
  2. The blog posts will cover different topics every week.
    1. Some future weekly posts will include general career advice, information about jobs in tech PR, important acronyms and basic data analytics.
  3. Do you like learning about technology?
    1. Whether you like it or not, technology is changing daily. Are you interested in learning more about innovative products and start-ups or big tech companies? Then this blog is for you!
  4. You will learn something new.
    1. You can impress your friends and family with your newfound knowledge.
  5. You’ll make my day.
    1. Do you like something I posted? Feel free to leave a comment or tweet to me @NatalieMangan.

Happy reading!