HP caught in reactive, but united, mode

It should come as no surprise that the corporate communications team at Hewlett-Packard has had its work cut out for them as of late.

It should come as no surprise that the corporate communications team at Hewlett-Packard has had its work cut out for them as of late.

One might even say the squad could have caught a bit of a break with last night's announcement that Apple CEO Steve Jobs would be stepping down.

It all began last Thursday. Press play began ramping up when the company announced it would acquire Autonomy, a UK-listed enterprise software company, for $10.2 billion. Microsoft and Oracle were reportedly bidding for the company at the end of 2010.

That same day, on an earnings call, HP said it would be pulling its first tablet offering, a mere seven weeks after its debut, off the market. Despite a lauded start, the TouchPad saw a number of price cuts after being hit with customer complaints over poor performance, and lackluster reviews.

But the stinger came when various media reports rolled in speculating that the company was planning to abandon its personal systems group (PSG), which manufactures personal computers for the consumer and commercial markets.

Shortly afterwards, HP released a statement announcing it was conducting an "evaluation of strategic alternatives" for the group, which would include "the exploration of the separation of its PC business into a separate company through a spin-off or other transaction."

What followed over the weekend and into this week was a hailstorm of press slanted on HP's exit of the PC business, and a downgrade of the company's stock by analysts. Then, on Monday, HP unveiled a new PC offering in the US, further bewildering the media and sparking continued speculation, criticism, and commentary.

Amid the frenzy, HP toppers came out this week with a united front--a key strategy that CCO Bill Wohl shared with PRWeek in this month's cover story feature. CEO Leo Apotheker and PSG UK head Paul Hunter have come out publicly saying they are not "quitting the PC business," and it's business as usual.

"Let me be absolutely clear in saying that at no stage has HP said it is quitting the PC business," said Hunter in a statement this week. "Three options are being investigated, and whether the company is spun off, sold or kept in the HP portfolio, the team in the UK remains committed to creating and supporting great products and services."

Meanwhile Wohl, who was not immediately available for comment, has taken to Twitter (@billwohlHP) to scold various media reports.

For a more than 70-year-old company such as HP, which has been on a C-suite merry-go-round for many years, this team seems much more poised and prepared to stand up as one amid controversy.

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