THE BIG PITCH: How can Yahoo! reestablish its credibility in thewake of recent problems?

STEVE MORRISON, Director of Corporate Programs, Phase Two


It will be months before Yahoo!'s new CEO is selected. As the company's

face, voice and vision, that selection is critical. Meanwhile,

Yahoo! has a great brand, 185 million users and smart, talented

employees other than Tim Koogle who built the brand and customer base

Yahoo! may be in the same boat with all the other dot-coms whose

valuations plunged, but it's not the Titanic, and Yahoo! is still riding

in first class. Yahoo!'s PR team must generate proof points that the

company remains healthy and has a great future. It should showcase its

outstanding people and muster its allies. It must guard against circling

the wagons. It must carefully manage the CEO-successor buzz and avoid

creating excessive expectations.

And once the selection is made, it must quickly identify the new CEO's

strengths and vision, show how Yahoo! impacts the world and get the CEO

out there telling the story.

TODD DEFREN, Managing Director, Sterling Hager

Yahoo!'s business options are more clear-cut than its PR options.

Pundits have suggested business strategies from the simplistic, 'Make a


Period.' to the intriguing, M&A. Either of these suggested strategies

would help Yahoo! in its PR dilemma, but neither is imminent. Meanwhile

it's critical that Yahoo! - a bellwether stock for the Internet - shore

up its reputation. So, what should the company do? Fire Yang & Filo.

They deserve both kudos and walking papers. Hire a business-and-media

savvy, 'doer'-style CEO like Gemstar's Henry Yuen. Focus on

fundamentals, like the darned search engine, and cut away

under-performing/noncore units.

Then, Yahoo! should unabashedly hype its back-to-basics approach: the

poster child for the new economy must warmly embrace the new


STEVE ROSSIE, Public Relations Specialist, Siddall, Matus & Coughter

Yahoo! still has one of the top brand identities in the so-called tech

sector. It still is the leading portal, is content rich and has numerous

attributes on which it can trade. But the misconception is that it is a

'tech' firm. It is a media company. The Web is a medium. AOL knew that,

thus its merger with a conventional media giant to round out its


So Yahoo! needs to reposition itself as a media outlet to increase its

acceptability across a larger spectrum of potential users, advertisers

and content providers. This will enhance revenue streams through

e-commerce, advertising and content partnerships. Being what you truly

are - and increasing your value - is the best form of credibility.


It's unfortunate there is bad news for Yahoo!, but bad news for them

exists in a dot-com fish bowl! We know that honesty and plenty of

communication are the keys to moving forward and reducing further

damage. Management officials must grab an influential reporter and tell

their story about how the company's 'cool' culture conflicted with

building the brand into what it should have - and still can - become: a

mature business! 'It's all changing - Yahoo!

has grown up!' We at RLM hope the company takes its time in seeking a

new CEO. Once she is found, her hire must be carefully publicized, in a

way that reflects the new values, the new economy, the new experiences

at Yahoo! and the new brand concept. A crack PR staff will ensure that

the company aggressively rebrands and gets beyond that 'portal thing,'

while positioning itself as a premier destination, something you

can't-do-without thanks to the foundation on which it was built.

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