Hurd On The Street

This is the news from MarketWatch/Dow Jones: Hewlett-Packard Co. said Tuesday that embattled Chairwoman Patricia Dunn will retain her position until the company’s January 2007 board meeting, when she will be replaced by company Chief Executive Mark Hurd.

The timing is about right. We suspected that she would be axed around now, with Hurd consolidating power. Amazing how quickly this news shot to the front page of news weeklies and top-line television news shows. The story faded in the wake of 9/11 remembrances and now pops up again. As it will again and again.

Terrible PR imbroglio for the company, eh? Not really. The stock has risen fairly steadily – see MarketWatch charting for HPQ – since we first wrote about the H-P Boardroom Spy vs Spy drama on Friday, September 8.

The place for H-P boardroom news and other juicy insider news and commentary is the DealBreaker.com . Ever wonder what Ben Bernanke looked like when he wrote his hippie dictionary in 1968? Wonder no more. Check out DealBreaker. Mark Rose, New York

How Stupid Can You Be?

I would like to be more eloquent and insightful but … the mess at Hewlett-Packard just leaves me shaking my head. Masked identities, accessing phone records of reporters and Board members, private eyes, spying on their own Board members. What sort of hubris and cunning drives that sort of corporate behavior? So far, the only good guy here is Tom Perkins, established and respected Silicon Valley VC and long-time H-P Board member, who blew up and quit when he found out about the Spy vs. Spy routine at H-P. 

Five reporters at The Wall Street Journal gang up today for a page one story that digs into the role of “prominent Silicon Valley attorney” Larry Sonsini and the H-P non-executive Chairman Patricia Dunn.  What’s frightening here is  Sonsini’s apparent legal opinion that “pretexting,” the method used to obtain protected information, is common practice and within the law. I am sure that we will have a slew of regulatory, legislative and legal opinions about that.

This is the sort of juicy corporate drama that WSJ excels in and since they were victim of shenanigans, as were other news outlets, they will have very sharp knives for this one. See WSJ story – subscription required. See New York Times story Hewlett-Packard Spied On Writers In Leaksregistration required.

There will be firings, lawsuits, criminal investigations and perhaps trials, legislation introduced and debated, books, movies, TV PR blitzes and salivation at each new revelation. Reporters will be very aggressive pursuing this story. – Mark Rose, New York

 

Dell Closes The Loop

I had yet one more communication from a Dell “customer advocate” regarding any concerns I may have about a potentially exploding battery in my Dell notebook computer. Dell certainly deserves kudos for its aggressive “social media outreach” during this crisis. When I originally blogged about this – see Dell On The Blog Offensive – I was a very dissatisfied long-term customer. The other day “Dennis UID#01129265″ from Dell sent an email asking if I had any other questions before he archived our communication. He was the second Dell rep I had communicated with.

What’s significant here is Dell proactively reaching out through blogs and email to elicit comment, continue dialogue and assist with problems. Richard Levick posts an excellent analysis of of the Dell exploding battery crisis on his blog. I believe there were more nuances to this story than Richard acknowledges (legal issues involving public disclosure/the story leaked) but his crisis communication counsel is obviously based on intelligence and experience, and much appreciated. – Mark Rose, New York

Corporate Blogs Still Suck

Do they? See Direct 2 Dell blog.

Dell On The Blog Offensive

Photo from theinquirer.net - scoop in the Dell exploding notebook newsI was furious when Dell announced its huge recall of notebook batteries that had the potential to explode. I was angry because the web site url the company gave for recall info was non-functioning and the phone number supposedly set-up to handle complaints was disconnected. There was nothing, not a word, of the recall on the Dell web site. Could they be so clueless and not to have a communication mechanism for what was billed as the largest consumer tech recall ever?

Turns out Dell was not clueless, far from it. They had been scooped by a small tech news source – The Inquirer – news, reviews, fact and friction – and their well laid communication plans were shot to pieces.

Dell thought they had this news under wraps until Tuesday, Aug. 15, but Sunday, August 13 The Inquirer piece ran. That soon caught the attention of a couple of enterprising Wall Street Journal reporters who posted an item on the exploding notebooks Monday afternoon. Soon after The New York Times posted a story on its home page that was later accompanied with a picture of a man looking inside the cab of his pickup truck that was incinerated by an exploding Dell notebook computer battery (manufactured by Sony). Take a look at the picture. It’s gruesome.

I am not an innocent bystander in this story. I recently bought a Dell notebook and I wanted to know if I had to call in the SWAT team to mismantle my computer before I took it on a plane trip to Seattle.

I have bought Dell computers, servers and peripherals for 20 years and I am a fan of the company, despite its marginalization of the consumer through increasingly inferior, on-the-cheap customer service. The day the recall was announced Neville Hobson hit it with a post: Dell’s Reputation Tipping Point queried if exploding laptops would sink the company. I weighed in with my thoughts, and my fury, and “Richard” from Dell answered.

He said that Dell was spending $100 million (widely reported) to beef up customer service and their blog, Direct2Dell was helping people get through the recall. The blog was indeed helpful, especially since Digital Media Manager Lionel Menchaca was moderating and reaching out to others in Dell to get answers.

I had some more give and take with “Richard” from Dell on Neville’s blog and was impressed that the company was smart enough to have bloggers proactively reach out with the company story and to put a name and face behind the story (There were photos of actual people on Direct2Dell).

I am writing this on a Dell Inspiron notebook. It hasn’t blown up … yet. Mark Rose in New York. 

Is This Picture Real?

Returning Home to RuinsFrom The New York Times – real or Wag The Dog?

The baby is a doll

The girl is a dog

The building is Legos

The smoke is a taco with the face of Jesus

The people are animation

It is not Beirut – it is Red Hook

Mark Rose, New York