HP reverses silent PR policy to defend Fiorina in FT

PALO ALTO, CA: In a move that flouted their traditional PR

trategy, members of Hewlett-Packard's (HP) board of directors have

publicly thrown their support to Carly Fiorina, the company's embattled

CEO, through the Financial Times newspaper.



In an article that followed, Fiorina spoke to the FT about the gender

stereotypes that she feels have dominated coverage of HP.



Several non-executive board members, "breaking a long-standing tradition

of public silence," according to Louise Kehoe of the FT, told the paper

that Fiorina has their "100 percent support."



Fiorina, who became CEO in July 1999, has been the target of harsh

criticism in the media and among analysts as HP has foundered in a tough

market.



Earnings fell 90% in the third fiscal quarter compared to last year.



The overall financial performance of the company since she took over has

been analyzed in depth by the media, including Christopher Byron in the

New York Observer. "I am sure that if Fiorina were a man, she'd be

getting no end of grief for this miserable performance," he wrote. "Pack

it in, babe - you stink."



"I was not prepared for the onslaught of media attention," Fiorina told

the FT. "I expected people to ask about the company ... but most of them

didn't. It was all about personality, gender - and it really took me

aback."



Applied Communications handles corporate PR for HP and declined to

comment on the strategic shift.



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