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Avow or Avoid?: The Public Communication Strategies of Enron and WorldCom
Unformatted Document Text:  Avow or Avoid? 25 was being open and honest when it most needed to. And its legal tactics tended to confirm what the media thought, that Enron was hiding something. WorldCom seemed to benefit from Sidgmore’s apparent availability to the media. And the rags to riches story of the company that was created on a Mississippi diner napkin had a mythic appeal. While everyone from President Bush to employees and investors were indignant about the creative accounting at WorldCom, the company’s quick action and pledge of transparency seems to have been more beneficial than Enron’s tendency to stonewall. Practitioners and scholars can benefit from this analysis of message flow and message integrity. These findings suggest additional evidence that legal and public relations communication strategies, especially during institutional crisis, are starting to blur. The default is no longer “no comment.” Organizations understand the importance of at least appearing open in their communication styles. While this research looked at two high profile financial scandals, future research might analyze messages during other types of common crisis (e.g., class action lawsuits, recalls or workplace violence).

Authors: Reber, Bryan. and Gower, Karla.
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Avow or Avoid?
25
was being open and honest when it most needed to. And its legal tactics tended to confirm what
the media thought, that Enron was hiding something.
WorldCom seemed to benefit from Sidgmore’s apparent availability to the media. And
the rags to riches story of the company that was created on a Mississippi diner napkin had a
mythic appeal. While everyone from President Bush to employees and investors were indignant
about the creative accounting at WorldCom, the company’s quick action and pledge of
transparency seems to have been more beneficial than Enron’s tendency to stonewall.
Practitioners and scholars can benefit from this analysis of message flow and message
integrity. These findings suggest additional evidence that legal and public relations
communication strategies, especially during institutional crisis, are starting to blur. The default
is no longer “no comment.” Organizations understand the importance of at least appearing open
in their communication styles.
While this research looked at two high profile financial scandals, future research might
analyze messages during other types of common crisis (e.g., class action lawsuits, recalls or
workplace violence).


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