Unanswered questions: Yahoo! lay-offs and issues management

In an uncharacteristic turn of events, Valleywag turned the light on to the media coverage of Yahoo!’s lay-off in Media: Why the Yahoo! feeding frenzy?. These aren’t the biggest or only lay-offs going on in Silicon Valley, but they have had the most scutiny of any internet company.

This was prompted by Yahoos getting their own back on the journalists by documenting the media circus setting up a gauntlet for their ex-colleagues to run. I have no doubt that the media have overstepped the line of decency to support a prurient interest, but I feel that there is more the company could have done to head off the media frenzy.

 

New low for TV

From a PR perspective, I had a number of questions:

  • Where was Yahoo!’s corporate communications team whilst all this crisis blew up?
  • Specifically that on earth was Jill Nash doing? This is precisely the reason why you pay big bucks and call them the ‘Chief Communications Officer’, because most of the time (hopefully things are going well) they are not earning their keep
  • Specifically, where was Yahoo!’s corporate communications team when the how-to lay-off slides where leaked? It would have been really easy to respond to this incident and close the questions down
  • Why did Yahoo! not better use its blog to set the tone and the media agenda like David Neeleman’s Our Promise To You video did for JetBlue’s Valentine’s day disaster? This is really surprised me as the blog was used very effectively during the Microsoft takeover battle and the company had using video very effectively, for instance this campus tour from a couple of years ago.
  • The company pioneered social media PR, which was one of the reasons I am still proud to say I was a Yahoo; yet now when they could have capitalised on the trust and goodwill for the right reasons they have executed a social media PR fail. Why?

It looks like I have yet another case study I can add for my presentation on online crisis management (and how not to do it).