Letting the cat out of the bag

Cat not yet out of the bag
Originally uploaded by Terri.

Interesting post on Sun Microsystems CTO, Jonathan Schwartz blog asking Sun employees to refrain on queering the pitch for their PR people by leaking product details. From a PR point of view, there are a number of things are interesting about his posting:

– The posting was driven directly by leaked information that had come out over the past few weeks
– Jonathan appealed to employees in a public forum, rather than an internal memo
– There was no mention of an employee blog policy, which many large companies have now implemented
– Its a soft pitch rather than the draconian slap down meted out by the likes of Apple, implying a trust-based system usually found in academic research labs (MIT used to give everybody root access so that they could delete or destroy other peoples work, to take away the achievement and challenge of hacking the security and inadvertently causing damage.) This by implication means that engineers, developers or researchers are likely to have been the whistleblowers

In A Simple Request to Sun Jonathan says: For the sake of your colleagues around Sun, please do not share Sun’s confidential information. There have been a few instances in recent weeks where crucial data and photos were leaked from Sun. It probably sounds counterintuitive, but this actually harms Sun’s business.

The way news or media cycles work, if any information is ‘leaked’ to the marketplace, it radically reduces our ability to garner broad top shelf coverage – most media outlets won’t cover what’s already been leaked. So leaks actually have the opposite effect of what you might think – they dampen coverage, lessen interest, and complicate helping the field drive business. They also prompt customers to put decisions on hold, and put at risk the credibility of our salesforce to be ‘trusted advisors’ to our most important partners and customers.