Showing posts with label sco. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sco. Show all posts

Tuesday, January 23

Turning A Corner: SCO

If you ever wondered whether there is a point of no return — a time when you lose control of your message forever — SCO might provide the answer. The company's primary message has been so public and so narrow for so long, it's difficult for anyone to see past it.

Sure, CEO Darl McBride wants people to look at SCO's new product releases — UnixWare and OpenServer, and the fledgling Me Inc. suite of mobile messaging applications. I don't blame him, but it's too little too late because everyone else wants to talk about what SCO wanted to talk about in 2003: its ongoing (and failing) lawsuits with IBM and Novell. Some journalists, like Bob Mims of The Salt Lake Tribune, even define the company this way: "SCO, best known for its ongoing US $5 billion federal lawsuit alleging that IBM leaked proprietary Unix code into Linux..."

From a communication standpoint, this illustrates why, sometimes, you have to be careful what you wish for. In 2003, McBride wanted the world to know that "SCO is in the enviable position of owning the UNIX operating system." But that was the year that SCO had so much news, it issued about 90 news releases and its "News About The SCO Group" page had at least that many entries. By comparison, in 2006, it issued about 30 new releases, but only a paltry five stories are included in the "News About The SCO Group" section, probably because all the rest are unfavorable and about the lawsuits.

Over at LWN.net, for example, the editor summed up a recent SCO conference call as: The answer is somewhat unsurprising: more of the same, with the main point being that SCO claims to own the Unix copyrights and believes that Novell is "trying to curry favor with the Linux community" by pressing its claims. SCO believes it will prevail on this point.

No, it isn't surprising, primarily because SCO has wrapped itself up so tightly in lawsuit communication, its executive team can no longer help themselves. You see, the conference call began with a statement that they would not talk about the lawsuit. But, of course, that was exactly what it was primarily about, with exception to some details about declining revenues and workforce reductions, which everyone except SCO seems to think is linked to, well, you guessed it, the lawsuit.

Which brings me back to the idea of reaching the point of no return. If SCO loses the lawsuit, assuming it can continue to operate with ever-diminishing returns, it seems to me it will be sunk. If, on the other hand, prevailing opinion is wrong, and somehow it wins the lawsuit, then it will forever be linked to winning a lawsuit no one seems to want it to win.

Ho hum. Sometimes when you win, you lose anyway. And that, to me, is the point of no return. You can have your day in court, but it's a short day when winning costs everything else. Addictions are like that.

Friday, January 19

Lacking A Message: SCO


As an investor, you might think twice about a tech company that seems to spend more on legal counsel than on research and development. In the communication world, we might wonder too, when the only news to offset the company’s continued losses is an audio postcard for mobile phones.

I’m not saying an audio postcard isn’t interesting (though I don’t think I’m in the target audience), it’s just not enough to offset what amounts to a net deficit in good news vs. bad news. (I sincerely hope they get something else off the drawing board).

You see, while I don’t enjoy reading about companies in trouble, there seems to be growing cause for coverage from Slashdot and Groklaw that suggests SCO is in deep trouble, with the company saying very little to correct the idea. (Although there is one denial, reported by CNET reporter Graeme Wearden.)

What is odd about SCO's lack of a message is that it has a history of correcting people, an entire page of its Website is dedicated to “recent” media corrections (most pertain to events in 2004). The page makes me wonder about the public relations logic in making media corrections a permanent part of their communication strategy, doubly so because they called it “recent,” as if to allude that more corrections were expected.

Sure, some might give the company kudos for correcting flawed reporting, and in some cases, I might be one of them. However, if erroneous reporting seems to be the rule as opposed to the exception, it’s time to start asking if "you" might be part of the problem.

When assessing what the media says about you or your client, here are a few questions to ask: 1. What did I say (or not say) that might have contributed to the inaccuracy? 2. Was the story fair, given the context and depth of the story, allowing for opinions from both sides? 3. Did the media give the story appropriate time and space and, if not, why was I unable to make my case that certain points were critical to the story?

These are just a few from a longer list, but suffice to say that when the media gets it wrong, spokespeople and public relations professionals have to accept some of the responsibility. Why? Because the truth is that most spokespeople are unprepared for interviews and few have any objectives outlined before they take the call. In fact, almost no one tries to correct what they said immediately after an interview (probably because they don't remember what they said anyway).

That's too bad because if you do listen to what you are saying, there might be time to follow up. You never know when a quick post interview e-mail to a reporter might be readily welcomed. Most reporters just want to get the story right.

While I am not sure that a few bad interviews started the communication problems at SCO, it does seem safe to say that there is an abundance of miscommunication surrounding the company and that miscommunication has irreparably damaged its brand.
 

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