ROCHESTER, NY: Former Kodak CMO Jeffrey Hayzlett has urged the embattled digital imaging company to focus on its profitable products and ditch the rest if it is to survive its potential bankruptcy crisis.
Digital imaging and photographic equipment and services company Eastman Kodak, founded 131 years ago, may soon file for bankruptcy if it doesn't sell enough of its patent portfolio to raise much-needed funds over the next few weeks.
Hayzlett, who was CMO of Kodak for four years and resigned in May 2010, said the company needs to concentrate on where it makes money and start getting out into the market and telling stories. "Focus there and forget the rest,” he said. “Focus.”
He added that Kodak is one of the great iconic brands and that people are rooting for it to survive and that it should adopt an open communications policy. "I always believe in open communications at all times," he said.
Rivian Bell, senior counselor and head of the bankruptcy practice at Abernathy MacGregor Group, said she thinks that filing for bankruptcy is “almost inevitable for Kodak because it has been discussed and leaked effectively for weeks now.”
With the news about Kodak's financial state becoming more widespread, Bell reflected Hayzlett's views when she said she thinks the company needs to communicate to vendors, employees, and consumers that “the filing is a path to reorganization not liquidation.”
She added that the company needs to be open about the situation, given that the Kodak name represents such an iconic brand.
“They are in a position where they really need to consider doing some kind of video news release or get something up on satellite where the CEO of Kodak can speak and address everyone,” she explained. “That video clip could also go on their website so anybody can see it.”
David Leavitt, VP at Powell Tate, also said transparency is key for companies when it comes to crisis situations, especially consumer-facing brands.
Although filing for bankruptcy is nowhere near ideal for a company, Leavitt thinks Kodak could still come out on top. “Plenty of companies have declared bankruptcy and later emerged to become successful, such as Disney and Heinz, so it's definitely possible for them,” he explained.
He added that Kodak may need to embrace digital technology and change its business model to pull out of this situation.
“Because of the proliferation of mobile phones, more people take photos and have access to cameras then ever before, so in some ways it's a question of whether Kodak can see that as an advantage rather than something that's holding them back,” he said.
Kodak's manager of corporate communications Christopher Veronda declined to comment on the issue.