Less than six months ago, David DeCamillis wasn't sure if Platte River Networks would be in business much longer.
The Denver-based company was in a tough position – hammered by a public relations crisis and part of an investigation by the FBI into Hillary Clinton's private email server, which the company had managed.
The company, which had been growing 30 percent to 40 percent year over year, was now facing 0 percent growth with huge additional business costs around legal fees, PR firms, customer retention and negative social media reviews. DeCamillis said he had been averaging a new sales lead a day prior to the investigation, a number that dried up to zero after the company's name became public.
"Financially, it was killing us. It was really tough," DeCamillis, vice president of sales and marketing at Platte River Networks, said Monday at XChange Solution Provider 2017 in National Harbor, Md.
On top of that, the company was facing swarms of media, who were camping out in the parking lot across the street and showing up at employees' homes, work and previous places of work. DeCamillis said media and other people also approached the company's customers, whom they found off positive testimonials on the Platte River Networks' website.
On social media, Platte River Networks faced a flood of negative comments, DeCamillis said, having to ban more than 300 people on Facebook for threats and vulgar comments, hateful comments on Twitter, and a plummeting Google Reviews score that dropped from 4.8 to 2.9 due to many negative comments and one-star reviews from people who weren't company customers.
The company's employees also faced death threats from people on the phone, social media and even showing up to the company's office. DeCamillis said the company ultimately reported 30 documented death threats against employees and their families to the FBI. Platte River Networks also started getting "weird stuff" in the mail, he said, including Hillary Clinton toilet paper, flowers with angry or hateful cards, and comics.
The result was rapidly dropping morale among employees, who were fearing for their safety and ability to do their jobs, DeCamillis said. The company had to upgrade its building security, with better keyless entry, barbed wire fences, cameras and better alarm systems – something DeCamillis said he wished he could have done before the business crisis happened.
"We were responding, but we weren't proactive," DeCamillis said. "I would love to go back in time and change all that but unfortunately we got thrown into a crisis that I wouldn't wish on anyone."