What Facebook, BP and Microsoft Teach Us About "Unspoken Messages"

Image from E-Commerce News

You heard it as a child: “Actions speak louder than words.” The same is true in public relations. Crafted statements and press releases can be effective communication tools only as far as they match reality.

Facebook is a recent example. Despite their continual claims that user privacy was important, they gradually loosened the privacy restrictions, making status updates publicly visible and sharing likes/dislikes with third-party sites by default. Only when users revolted would they temporarily step back, as they are doing now. The unspoken message: user privacy is secondary to company growth.

BP officially says it will pay “all legitimate claims” resulting from the gulf coast oil spill. Those were good words for the coastal states to hear. Since then, BP has fought Congress against raising its $75 million legal liability cap, and will not clarify what is or is not “legitimate.” The unspoken message: BP will not be pressured to do more than it feels necessary.

BP has been forced to battle an aggressive US government as the administration sends the unspoken message that it is seeking to avoid blame being placed on the President. To sound presidential, President Obama has placed a moratorium on offshore drilling for six months so we can properly study the situation and avoid a repeat. However, because the President gave a positive message for new offshore drilling just weeks before the gulf oil disaster, the unstated message is “I am a waffler, willing to follow the polls. And, I don’t really know what I was doing endorsing oil exploration just a few weeks ago.”

John Pilmer, president of PilmerPR, commented on this issue when asked by E-Commerce News about a recent change in Microsoft’s leadership. Robbie Bach, president of the company’s entertainment and devices division (responsible for the Xbox, Zune and other gadgets) is stepping down along with J Allard, a senior vice president in the division. Microsft’s CEO, Steve Ballmer, is stepping in and taking charge.

According to Ballmer (officially quoted in PC Magazine) Bach’s resignation is only possible due to his success:

“Robbie’s an amazing business person and close personal friend, which makes his departure a point of sadness for me,” Ballmer said. “However, given the strong leadership team he has built, the business performance of E&D this year and the launches of Windows Phone 7 and ‘Project Natal’ this fall, we are set up well for success as we continue to drive our mobile and entertainment businesses forward.”

John points out what the shake-up really says about Microsoft’s entertainment and devices division:

The shakeup is as much about sending a message as it is about internal operations, according to John Pilmer, president of Pilmer PR, who has worked with Microsoft and its partners for more than a decade.

Redmond wants to assure the market that it is on top of its problems and will compete in — and dominate — the space, Pilmer told the E-Commerce Times.

The market is also hearing an unspoken message, he said — that Microsoft is not getting the job done, and the competition is “kicking our trash.”

Read the full article at E-Commerce News.

PilmerPR works closely with clients to develop positive messaging that highlights successes and opportunities, and matches the good work the company is doing. You can also learn more about how PilmerPR can help with crisis management.

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About the Author:

As founder of PilmerPR, John Pilmer, APR serves as a PR and marketing communications advisor for both emerging and established companies. He offers customers more than 20 years of results-driven business PR and marketing experience. John and the firm have provided PR consultation and campaigns for clients such as Mozy, Novell, AdvancedMD, Certiport, NextPage, ElectraTherm, Altiris, Avamar, EmergeCore Networks, FSLogic, INVISUS, 10x Marketing, MWI, Project Insight, REIC, Seastone, US Synthetic and Funding Universe (now Lendio), among others.
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