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Avow or Avoid?: The Public Communication Strategies of Enron and WorldCom
Unformatted Document Text:  Avow or Avoid? 22 previous role as vice chairman. “I have concluded that having moved WorldCom through the initial phase of the bankruptcy process now is the appropriate time for the company to initiate a search for a long-term CEO,” Sidgmore said in the release (WorldCom Announces Its, September 10, 2002, para. 3). The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, in its coverage of the announcement of additional accounting fraud, focused on the attitudes of former WorldCom employees, investors and competitors. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution noted that the company’s press release “warned investors and creditors that more improper accounting ‘may be discovered and announced’” (Brister, August 9, 2002, para. 15). BusinessWeek suggested that the bankruptcy “announcement had been expected for weeks” (Haddad, Crockett & Timmons, August 5, 2002, para. 1) and that “Assuming its customers don’t abandon it…the company looks likely to emerge from bankruptcy stronger than ever” (para. 2). The focus of the BusinessWeek article was WorldCom’s attempts to retain its current base of customers. While BusinessWeek noted WorldCom’s external communication efforts, USA Today highlighted internal communication issues. USA Today (Backover & Kessler, August 27, 2002) noted, “Sidgmore and his lieutenants are trying to boost morale through e-mail and in person. ‘Your continued dedication is critical to maintaining customer confidence,’ Sidgmore said in an e-mail to employees this month” (Backover & Kessler, August 27, 2002, para. 5). USA Today also noted Sidgmore’s messages of WorldCom’s improvement under current management and shifting blame to Sullivan and other previous WorldCom executives. Additionally, USA Today quoted WorldCom spokesman Brad Burns suggesting that operations were business as usual at WorldCom. Discussion

Authors: Reber, Bryan. and Gower, Karla.
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Avow or Avoid?
22
previous role as vice chairman. “I have concluded that having moved WorldCom through the
initial phase of the bankruptcy process now is the appropriate time for the company to initiate a
search for a long-term CEO,” Sidgmore said in the release (WorldCom Announces Its,
September 10, 2002, para. 3).
The
Atlanta Journal-Constitution, in its coverage of the announcement of additional
accounting fraud, focused on the attitudes of former WorldCom employees, investors and
competitors. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution noted that the company’s press release “warned
investors and creditors that more improper accounting ‘may be discovered and announced’”
(Brister, August 9, 2002, para. 15).
BusinessWeek suggested that the bankruptcy “announcement had been expected for
weeks” (Haddad, Crockett & Timmons, August 5, 2002, para. 1) and that “Assuming its
customers don’t abandon it…the company looks likely to emerge from bankruptcy stronger than
ever” (para. 2). The focus of the BusinessWeek article was WorldCom’s attempts to retain its
current base of customers.
While
BusinessWeek noted WorldCom’s external communication efforts, USA Today
highlighted internal communication issues. USA Today (Backover & Kessler, August 27, 2002)
noted, “Sidgmore and his lieutenants are trying to boost morale through e-mail and in person.
‘Your continued dedication is critical to maintaining customer confidence,’ Sidgmore said in an
e-mail to employees this month” (Backover & Kessler, August 27, 2002, para. 5). USA Today
also noted Sidgmore’s messages of WorldCom’s improvement under current management and
shifting blame to Sullivan and other previous WorldCom executives. Additionally, USA Today
quoted WorldCom spokesman Brad Burns suggesting that operations were business as usual at
WorldCom.

Discussion


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