The Big Pitch: How should Oracle handle allegations that it spied on pro-Microsoft groups?

Peter Shankman

Peter Shankman

Peter Shankman



The Geek Factory



New York



So Larry ordered his company to do what every other big company in the

world does - the only difference was that he got caught. Larry’s always

racing boats and flying his MiG, so he obviously likes adventure and

sport, right? Oracle should organize the first-ever hi-tech ’Corporate

Spy Olympics.’ Get about 25 hi-tech companies and put together an entire

day of contests, such as diving into a 40-foot-deep dumpster and

attempting to recover one specific piece of financial data from the

bottom. There should be a puzzle contest, where the teams have to find

the remains of one shredded memo and put it back together in a specific

amount of time. Then there should be an ’avoid the guard’ event, where

you have to sneak into a building on a specific company’s campus without

getting caught.





Eric Yaverbaum



Jericho Communications



New York



If Larry Ellison knew that Oracle’s Raymond Lane was going to be

resigning when he did, why in the world would he have a press conference

- which brought more attention to Oracle’s use of an investigation

service - when he did? If Ellison was thinking it would divert

stockholders’ attention from the fact that the guy widely credited for

having rebuilt Oracle was leaving, it didn’t. Instead, it made it a

bigger story. Just look at the stock price. And why the classic ’sending

out of the release on a Friday of a holiday weekend’ tactic? As Oracle

moves forward, it needs to settle on key messages, as opposed to making

hollow statements that no one will believe anyway. Also, the company

should reconsider not replacing Lane; a solid replacement could help

them put this episode behind them.





Brian Unger



TVN Communications



New York



There is nothing Oracle’s PR team can do in the immediate future - the

knee-jerk reaction to start a warm, fuzzy program for the homeless or to

fire off a bunch of press releases would be useless. Not only would it

appear self-serving, it would be self-serving. Oracle needs to look at

this incident as part and parcel of their whole corporate attitude, as

well as Larry Ellison’s image that he is above the law. The first thing

the company needs to do is get out of the office and into the mountains

with some great guru or some of the best communications experts to

decide just who they are as a company. They also need to decide what

their mission is, above and beyond beating Microsoft and becoming the

biggest bully on the block. Until they get back to reality, no

communications program will make a difference.





Geoff Geiger



Geiger Communications



Alameda, CA



Larry Ellison has indicated no remorse, and chances are he would not

welcome a ’mea culpa’ approach to the PR crisis. Yet even if he did, the

crisis-communication mantra of ’we’re wrong, we’re sorry, we won’t do it

again’ would not suffice in this instance. Oracle’s PR team should

publicly explore the ethical issues that underlie this incident in a

seminar entitled, ’In a world of slimeballs, should you be one too?’

They’re in a touchy spot. I’d recommend they get Ellison and his

executive team to look deeply at the kind of company they want to be and

the world they want to inhabit. Such a long-term view may not be in the

interests of tomorrow’s headlines or stock prices, but it’s the best PR

course



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