Sun expands Lark's role amid increased pressure

SANTA CLARA, CA: Sun Microsystems has increased the scope of its communications department's responsibilities at a time when the technology company is feeling increased competitive pressures.

SANTA CLARA, CA: Sun Microsystems has increased the scope of its communications department's responsibilities at a time when the technology company is feeling increased competitive pressures.

Andy Lark, VP of global communications and marketing, will now oversee all advertising, marketing, and event management. Lark said his expanded purview came out of a desire by Sun to drive more integrated communications, and bring reputation management and brand management closer together.

"My key focus for the coming year is going to be looking at the advertising and branding, and making sure we competitively execute on the brand front, and look at how we can continue to enhance our reputation in the market. We'll be looking at PR, viral marketing, and e-marketing in particular," said Lark. Meanwhile, Sun has had its hands full dealing with media and analyst criticism. The company has been hurt for several quarters by declining revenue and declining market share. The tech media and analysts have wondered whether the company can compete against rivals such as Dell, Hewlett-Packard, and IBM. Merrill Lynch analyst Steven Milunovich wrote a highly publicized open letter warning that the company's days could be numbered.

In a recent interview with Silicon.com, Sun CEO Scott McNealy said Sun's only challenge is communicating its message to customers. He added that any negative public perception of the company is due to the spin from rivals and analysts.

"Any company of our size faces both criticism and praise," said Lark. "We're listening hard to customers and stakeholders. We're running the team much like a sports team, which doesn't run listening to armchair quarterbacks. For us, it's part listening, and part executing."

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