Yahoo! and Corporate Communications

Carol Bartz, CEO of Yahoo! was fired yesterday. The first widespread notice was an e-mail she sent to employees, which according to the New York Times read:

I am very sad to tell you that I’ve just been fired over the phone by Yahoo’s Chairman of the Board. It has been my pleasure to work with all of you and I wish you only the best going forward.

For starters, no one wants to be fired over the phone. Maybe it was the only feasible way, depending on where the parties were at the time, but it’s hardly ideal.

As The Consumerist points out, Bartz was hired to turn Yahoo! and its share price around, and that hasn’t happened. So the firing wasn’t necessarily shocking. Then, Yahoo! sent out its own message, in a press release that included the following paragraph:

Roy Bostock, Chairman of the Yahoo! Board, said, “The Board sees enormous growth opportunities on which Yahoo! can capitalize, and our primary objective is to leverage the Company’s leadership and current business assets and platforms to execute against these opportunities. We have talented teams and tremendous resources behind them and intend to return the Company to a path of robust growth and industry-leading innovation. We are committed to exploring and evaluating possibilities and opportunities that will put Yahoo! on a trajectory for growth and innovation and deliver value to shareholders.”

Does Roy Bostock really talk like that? I’m not sure anyone does–not when they’re actually trying to say something, that is. This reads more like someone trying to avoid saying anything. I think David Meerman Scott gets it right when he says, “Yahoo! missed an opportunity to communicate like humans and deliver some real information.”

A press release shouldn’t be in code. Tell people what they need to know in a way they can easily understand. We’re all busy. Show that you respect that. What have you got to lose?

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Posted on September 7, 2011, in Communication and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. If you eliminated all of the news releases that were written like this, you would be eliminating more than 90 percent of news releases – and probably more than 98 percent (do I hear 99?) of those that have to do with executive hiring and firing. Almost every company that has ever issued a release along these lines has missed the opportunity to communicate like humans. I don’t think that’s why they have public relations or corporate communications departments, though.

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