LAST week, Sun Microsystems Inc. reported its Q4 results. Like most investors, I went to the company’s investor relations website for the news.However, I learned today via the New York Times that I missed something.
CEO Jonathan Schwartz wrote a long post about the quarterly results on his blog.
I would have liked to have known about this last Tuesday, but it wasn’t publicized on the company’s investor relations pages.
I went to have a look again today to see if perhaps I’d missed it, but it still wasn’t mentioned anywhere.
You would think that when the CEO of a Fortune 500 company talks about his company’s quarterly results that it would be relevant to investors. It should be highlighted on the IR homepage — the place investors are supposed to go for companies’ investor information.
Then again, perhaps the lack of link to the blog post suggests that Jonathan’s blog is not to be taken seriously by investors. Perhaps it’s not relevant or doesn’t contain anything meaningful. It’s a waste of time. That’s one way of interpreting it.
Another way of seeing it is that there’s a lack of coordination and communication inside Sun. The left hand doesn’t know that the right hand is doing. They’re just disorganized.
My best guess, however, is that this is most likely a case of a company’s investor relations program not keeping pace with changes in business communications practices, even though those changes are being spearheaded by the company’s CEO.
This wouldn’t surprise me in the least because Sun hasn’t been keeping pace with how top companies use the Internet to communicate with investors. Earlier this month, we published a list of the best investor relations websites in the technology sector. Sun’s site fell far short of the best sites in the sector. Some of its practices undermine the company’s credibility.
I don’t want it to seem that I am picking on Sun because the company is by no means alone. Most corporate communicators, whether attached to PR departments, IR departments or even marketing, seem to be at a loss when it comes to communicating effectively online. This was the case long before people like Jonathan began rewriting the rulebook on corporate communications.
If people employed to be effective communicators want to remain relevant, they really must start taking this Web thing seriously. Because, as this little example illustrates, small lapses can be interpreted in so many negative ways.
Update: Ten days later. I take full credit. Someone at Sun Microsystems Inc. read my post about CEO Jonathan Schwartz’s blog not being visible on the company’s investor relations web pages and decided to do something about it.
If you go there now you will see Jonathan’s mugshot on the left side of the page below the nav and some other stuff that I don’t remember because it looked like an ad. (I’m banner blind.)
Unless you have a monster monitor, you will need to scroll down to see it, but it’s there. Apparently, this CEO isn’t above-the-fold material!
Here’s a screen grab:
The above is better than not mentioning that the CEO has a blog. But it is still buried and it doesn’t tell people what he’s blogging about. Instead of the link that says “View Jonathan’s latest posting,” it would be much better to spell out what the latest post is about.
“Lunch with Tony Blair” or something more descriptive would be much better.
Heesh! Didn’t Sun used to be a web usability leader once? I thought Jakob got his start there.
But it bothers me that no one at the company bothered to tell me they had fixed the problem. I had to discover it for myself.
That makes the people concerned look sleazy. Like they are trying cover up the fact that they screwed up and are too insecure to admit it. Suppose that might happen at a company that’s firing 5,000-odd people.
Still, look at Google. They fixed a problem I found on their Google Finance page and said thank you.
I think much more of Google’s culture for that.