Global Crossing CEO tours to repair company image

BERMUDA: A year into his stint at the helm of Global Crossing, CEO John Legere has embarked on a media tour as part of the embattled telecommunications firm's effort to polish its image.

BERMUDA: A year into his stint at the helm of Global Crossing, CEO John Legere has embarked on a media tour as part of the embattled telecommunications firm's effort to polish its image.

The tour, which began earlier this month, is being linked to his appointment to the company's top post, and was designed to highlight the progress that the Bermuda-based company has made during his tenure. Tour stops have included USA Today, CNN (Europe), CNBC, Communications Week International, and the Miami Herald.

The media tour is part of an aggressive reputation makeover that the communications team at Global Crossing has been attempting to orchestrate since the company's Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing in late January.

The company's reputation has also been sullied by accusations of misleading accounting practices as well as huge 401(k) losses for its employees resulting from the bankruptcy. Those issues were compounded by the fact that the firm's founder and chairman, Gary Winnick, sold more than $700 million in Global Crossing stock in the years preceding the company's collapse.

There have also been allegations that Winnick encouraged the company's controversial accounting methods.

Unlike many other companies afflicted by scandal in recent months, Global Crossing has not reached out to a specialized crisis firm to steer its PR operation through the media firestorm. Instead, Global Crossing's PR effort continues to be handled entirely in-house.

The goal of Legere's tour is to spread the message that while the company has faced a challenging year, management is successfully turning the business around, and is on track to successfully emerge from Chapter 11 in 2003.

"We have been trying to get John (Legere) out in front in a major way since our filing in January," explained Rebecca Yeamans, VP of media and analyst relations for the company. "Our focus has been trying to demonstrate how much progress we've made in the last year turning the business around."

The company says its target audiences for the tour include its employees, customers, and board of directors.

The Global Crossing communications team has highlighted several key messages for each of these constituencies, according to an internal communications action plan. For example, the plan states that the company wants to emphasize to customers that it "has not missed a step in serving customers, including the delivery of new solutions."

Nevertheless, Legere and Global Crossing continue to be dogged by questions about the status of chairman Winnick. The issue was raised again in mid-October, as some of the company's creditors asked for Winnick's removal.

The company would not comment on whether it had developed a strategy for handling questions about the status of its controversial chairman.

During a recent interview on CNBC, Legere responded to a question about Winnick's status with, "As of last Friday, I spent one year as the CEO.

I make all the calls in running this business. Gary is the chairman of the board. That is being reviewed. He's under investigation, as is the company. This will run its course, but this company is being turned around by my management team, and we're not part of the past. We're part of the future."

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