Google and Larry’s Laryngitis

 Google and Larrys Laryngitis

The PR Verdict: The PR Verdict: “D” (It’s a Dud) for Google. (Pictured: Google CEO Larry Page.)

Larry Page, Google’s CEO, regrets he is unable to lunch today. And not just today, it seems, but all the way into mid July. The reason? Larry has “lost his voice” and “can’t do any public speaking engagements for the time being,” says Google. That includes the second quarter earnings conference in three weeks’ time. His voice is gone, and it isn’t coming back anytime soon.

The announcement has spooked investors. In an industry that endlessly speculated about the on again, off again health of Steve Jobs at Apple, this sort of news gets the rumor mill activated. Google says it is business as usual and that Page is “OK”  and continuing to run the company. “He’s running all the strategy business decisions and all that,” reassures Google.

Not all investors buy it. JP Morgan described the announcement as ”odd,” and others are wondering. One told the Wall Street Journal that the decision to miss an earning call was “highly unusual.” He said, “It’s hard to imagine a CEO missing that much stuff and not having a serious problem,” echoing what could become a rumbling chorus.

The PR Verdict: “D” (It’s a Dud) for Google. Who knows what the real situation is, but this explanation doesn’t reassure the market. Already suspicion is growing that Google is being less than frank.

PR Takeaway: Don’t over-complicate. Let’s face it, losing your voice doesn’t last three weeks. If Page can’t speak at earnings in three weeks’ time, it’s not a bad idea to flag it beforehand–but why not suggest that he’s having a minor medical procedure/treatment that will put him out of action for a fixed period? Use calming words to minimize the fuss and reinforce that it’s not market moving and material. Something is up, and now Google has more explaining to do. It might have been easier to have been straightforward from the start.

Should Google have anticipated investor worries, or is this a case of the truth just not being good enough these days? Give us your PR Verdict, below.


How Much Is That Art In The Window?

artbaselmiami How Much Is That Art In The Window?

The PR Verdict: “C” for Art Basel Miami and and the contemporary art market.

60 Minutes last night revisited the contemporary art market, twenty years after its first report on the business.   Back then, the segment was accused of being nothing more than a “send up” of the art market.   Last night proved nothing has changed in twenty years.

This time the focus was on Art Basel Miami Beach (ABMB), the contemporary art fair held in Miami.   Accompanied by shots of private planes, cocktails and trophy wives,  “the one percent”  were described as benefitting from an art market that sizzles while the stock market fizzles.

The segment interviewed some of the more notorious art dealers at ABMB.  All came off badly,  sounding more like cynical and pushy time-share sales staff.  With over $5.5 billion transacted at contemporary auctions alone,  60 Minutes alluded to the perils of price fixing in an unregulated market.  Bottom line, dealers and ABMB didn’t challenge the segment’s suggestion that the whole market is nothing more than a giant con with some dealers unwittingly giving credence to the idea.

The PR Verdict: “C” for Art Basel and the contemporary art market industry.  This was a rerun of the 60 Minutes story from 20 years ago,  only with higher prices.

Next time the leading dealers and art fair producers should aim to change the context of the discussion.  Why not start with acknowledging that like any specialist market, the contemporary art market has its own language and context.  None of it is understandable at first blush.  Giving 15,000 people access to an art fair doesn’t mean they have understood the subject mater just as giving 15,000 people access to data on options trading also doesn’t guarantee widespread understanding.  To move the conversation on from the gee-whiz approach to prices, something more considered was needed.

To see the 60 Minutes segment click here.  To see a gallery of art from December’s ABMB click here.