DALLAS: Companies that should be telling the business world about their Y2K solutions are holding back for fear of getting sued - and missing a massive PR opportunity.
This was the conclusion of client-based research from Texas based M/C/C, an integrated agency, which this week announced that it has formed a new four-person department to tackle the communications issues posed by the potential Y2K computer glitch.
The company, which has worked for a number of big-name, high-tech clients such as IBM, AOL, Ericsson, Fujitsu, Applied Innovation, Geoworks and CompuCom, has found that although many companies are preparing briefings and PR plans for internal communication on the Y2K issue, they are not publicizing their plans.
'This is an opportunity for successful media relations and a brilliant chance to build customer loyalty by offering to advise on their Y2K planning, and by co-ordinating their planning with your company's planning,' said Kim Coots, director of public relations at M/C/C. 'But people are simply not taking the opportunity.
'Why aren't they taking it? Because they are scared about the legal liability,' she continued. 'There has been some recent legislation on the issue, but everyone is confused about exactly what it means. The whole thing needs clarifying, and we need to persuade companies to talk to each other.'
Top hi-tech public relations experts - such as Dave Copithorne of Copithorne & Bellows and Larry Weber of Weber Public Relations - have also stressed the importance of clients considering not only the implications, but also the opportunities presented by the Y2K issue.
'Y2K is one of the fastest growing areas of PR in terms of fee income,' said Weber. 'But many people have only just started to tackle it. This is a big business opportunity.'
Coots added: 'Even where it is being talked and written about it is still only being seen as a technology story. But it is more than that, it is a business story. People should be communicating the implications for branding and for finances, not just for computer systems.'.