Memo to Staff: Use Yahoo Mail – Just Not Like This

yahoomail Memo to Staff: Use Yahoo Mail   Just Not Like This

The PR Verdict: “D” (PR Problematic) for Yahoo’s not-so-internal messaging.

When internal corporate missives leak out to the light of day, the results can be embarrassing in more ways than one. Yahoo is the latest case study. On the heels of the much-panned redesign of Yahoo Mail, an internal email from two Yahoo VPs divulged that not even employees care to use the company’s flagship product.

The leaked message asks employees – not for the first time – to ditch Microsoft Outlook, the workhorse of corporate email, in favor of Yahoo Mail for their business accounts. To date, just 25 percent have and to win over the holdouts, the authors turned to humor.

The writers joke, cajole, entreat: “Using corp mail from the Y Mail web interface is remarkably feature rich,” goes the note. “Feeling that little tingle? Take a deep breath, you can do this. We want you on board, sailor!”

Creative, yes. But effective? How many 600-word emails from corporate do you read – that is, before they leak to the outside?

THE PR VERDICT: “D” (PR Problematic) for Yahoo Mail’s product VPs, for an object lesson in why internal communication sometimes doesn’t stay that way.

THE PR TAKEAWAY: When communicating write for the front page. Your carefully crafted internal memo could land there, to opposite effect. This one in particular begged to be leaked. The writers wanted to be clever, appeal to the average Yahooan’s irreverence and sense of fun. Perhaps they did. But they also exposed, and potentially worsened, what appears to be the company’s disillusioned corporate culture.  Content of the message aside, email, to paraphrase Churchill, is the worst form of communication, except for all the other forms of communication that have been tried from time to time. Use it sparingly and keep it brief. Chances are it will outlive you.

The PRV Report Card: This Week’s Winners & Losers

 The PRV Report Card: This Week’s Winners & LosersPR WINNER OF THE WEEK: “A” (PR PERFECT) to the Seattle Police Department for their amusing and effective method of policing the first Hempfest since Washington state legalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use. In a brilliant move, the new law’s “do’s and don’ts” were printed on the backs of small Doritos bags and doled out to revelers by the boys and girls in blue. Brilliant because, you know, Hempfesters would inevitably get the munchies at some point, but also because it’s refreshing to see the police department take the role of community guardian and educator instead of adopting the typical “us vs them” mentality that so many urban forces exhibit these days. This was one time a bunch of potheads were stoked to see the fuzz.

Madonna grilz 150x150 The PRV Report Card: This Week’s Winners & LosersPR LOSER OF THE WEEK: “F” (FULL FIASCO – or should we say, “Full Fashion Fiasco?”) to Madonna. Last Friday, she turned 55, but this week, Madge showed the world she’s still the Material Girl, not the Material Matron, by sporting gold grills on her teeth. Aside from the fact that she looks, in this photo anyway, like Hillary Clinton doing Madonna for a Saturday Night Live sketch, complete with dark roots and age-inappropriate getup, this look does not say “hip and youthful” so much as it shrieks “midlife crisis.” A sign that Madonna’s still huge: None among her entourage dares tell her the truth. 

130819145747 marissa mayer vogue horizontal gallery The PRV Report Card: This Week’s Winners & LosersTHE PRV “THERE’S NO ‘THERE’ THERE” AWARD TO Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer, whose glamorous photo shoot and chatty interview in the September issue of Vogue has people scratching their heads more than turning them. Fetchingly posed on a chaise lounge in a sleek blue designer dress and stilettos, Mayer is telling the world…what, exactly? Not much about the company she was brought in to turn around 13 months ago.  (“What would Marissa Mayer wear?” asks an accompanying feature on workweek attire – surely the question uppermost on every investor’s mind.) Yahoo, to her credit, is turning around, which maybe is why she felt comfortable with doing the Vogue piece. Still, a glossy magazine spread that focuses on her wardrobe more than her work ethic reflects an overly preening personal PR campaign – likely dismaying loyal fans who admired her for breaking glass ceilings, not wearing glass stilettos.

Yahoo Appeals to Its Own Vanity

yahoo logo 600 Yahoo Appeals to Its Own Vanity

THE PR VERDICT: “D” (PR Problematic) for Yahoo! and its recycled ID plan.

Everything old is new again at internet giant Yahoo! Silicon Valley’s wannabe comeback kid announced plans to recycle unused account IDs to free them up for new users – a bone-toss to any user saddled with alphanumeric mouthful like johndsmith12345. “If you’re like me, you want a Yahoo ID that’s short, sweet, and memorable,” Jay Rossiter, Yahoo’s SVP for Platforms, announced on the company’s Tumblr blog.

Not everyone loved the news. Hackerphobes quickly raised concerns that recycling IDs could expose users to identity theft and other security threats. Traditionally account IDs are almost never recycled for fear that hackers can use them to gain access to other, still active accounts. A writer for Wired Magazine who has chronicled his personal experience with a crippling hacker attack called Yahoo’s plan “a spectacularly bad idea.”

Yahoo on the other hand, seeking to inject new enthusiasm into its brand and still fighting a “Your Father’s Internet” reputation,  promised that appropriate security safeguards were in place. But embarrassingly , when pressed, it couldn’t assert that the plan was hacker-proof. Yahoo is now left wiping spam off its corporate face.

THE PR VERDICT: “D” (PR Problematic) for Yahoo’s questionable plan and hedgy commitment to user security.

THE PR TAKEAWAY: Prepare for the obvious. Coming as it did amid revelations of Internet spying by the government, Yahoo’s pitch to new users seems particularly poorly timed and bound to raise tough questions. Not even a PR magician could salvage what appears to be an ill-conceived, poorly-vetted plan. Besides the legitimate security issues, recycling user IDs seems slightly gimmicky. In the end Yahoo couldn’t vouchsafe on questions of security. The result? Yahoo looked desperate to make a splash and walked straight into a PR blunder.

The PRV Report Card: This Week’s Winners and Losers

 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners and LosersPR WINNER OF THE WEEK: “A” (PR PERFECT) Marissa Mayer of Yahoo. Yahoo’s CEO suddenly found herself and Yahoo at the center of a national conversation about the merits of working from home. Brought in to turn the ailing tech firm around, Mayer arrived at the Yahoo campus only to find empty offices and parking lots with her colleagues “working from home.” Her subsequent leaked internal memo abolishing the work-from-home option caught media attention and put Yahoo front and center in the work debate. Yahoo’s response? “This isn’t a broad industry view on working from home. This is what’s right for Yahoo right now.” No further comment, but the media was clearly well briefed with informed statistics about Yahoo’s climbing morale and productivity. Mayer’s PR point was made loud and clear: Yahoo’s turnaround has begun.

 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners and LosersPR LOSER OF THE WEEK: “F” (FULL FIASCO) to Hugo Chavez’s camp. We love a conspiracy theory, but the dark mutterings coming from Chavez supporters that the US government was responsible for the cancer that killed their leader was one of the more fantastic PR responses. Even more so, given that Chavez was treated for his illness in Cuba, courtesy of his revolutionary pal Fidel. Until very recently, Cuban doctors gave him a clear bill of health and said the Venezuelan leader’s revolution would continue unabated. Don’t like to speak ill of the dead, but this PR point was more than vaguely comical.

 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners and LosersTHE PRV “THERE’S NO ‘THERE’ THERE” AWARD TO Justin Bieber. Nothing fuels a fire better than more gasoline – or, in this case, more Tweets. Admittedly, the teen heartthrob had a mildly squiffy PR week: He was reportedly booed after starting a concert two hours late, a nightclub turned his under-age pals away from his birthday party, and actress Olivia Wilde Tweeted that he should put a shirt on. Rather than ignoring these molehills, Bieber made mountains of them with a slew of ranting, defensive Tweets, concluding “im a good person. i know that. u cant tell me different” [sic]. The only thing we’d say differently, Biebs, is that most of the problem is now coming from u.