The headline got your attention? Good, because Hewlett-Packard (HP or HPQ) is the best example going of a huge corporation not understanding Word-of-Mouth Marketing (WoMM), Reputation Management or the Search Industry.
I'm not going to go into the ethics of what's gone on with the Scandal at HP, the Hewlett Packard board, Patricia Dunn and Mark Hurd - for that I highly recommend checking out Robert Scoble's Blog for his take on Patricia Dun's departure. What I want to point out is the lousy job HP's PR department is doing in handling the matter.
In a world where the populations is every increasingly moving to the Internet to get the news and information, HP's PR team is failing when it comes to grasping the understanding of reputation management and how it relates to news and search on the Internet. In all my research, between news, blogs, search engines and other sites, I found only a small inkling that HP was trying to combat all this negativity and that they were trying to get "their spin" on the story out there.
So lets start at search - since that's where just about everyone starts when they want to find information on something. I'll post a few thumbnails here so you can see the different searches and items I've got highlighted in them to draw your attention.
Now with some curiosity I move over to news searches:
See that red arrow there - take note, it is Yahoo!'s news search now suggesting I might want to dig deeper into "hewlett packard scandal". Naturally of course I wanted to see what would come back, but not in news search - in regular search. I took a look at Google, MS Live and Yahoo. What I found was the New York times buying ads to direct people to their site for articles about the scandal (kudos to them!) and the occasional HP ad that had "Get the Facts".
I tried a lot of different versions in these searches and HP is so "willy nilly" with their choice of keywords and phrases for their campaigns in Google and Yahoo! (I couldn't find ads for them on Microsoft Live), it blatantly shows their lack of knowledge in the search industry. Now you're probably wondering just where the ads HP has about this scandal and "Getting the Facts" leads to the HP Press Release center, in-particularly to the latest press release about Mark V. Hurd becoming taking Patricia Dunn's place at HP.
I found it a little odd that they'd lead to a specific press release and not to their news room, or even perhaps to a senior staff member's blog, who's been authorized to speak on the situation. In the way of blogs from senior staff here's a list of who I found.
I highlighted Eric Kintz blog, thinking that maybe since he was "Marketing" we just might see some reference to what's going at HP, out on his blog - Marketing Excellence. Although I found two great entries (The Dynamics of Viral Marketing, Dissociative Identity Marketing), I didn't find "the facts" about HP's side of the story here either.
I went out to Technocrati to do some digging as well. What you see below looks like it was tracked up until last week - and this many number of mentions isn't likely customers raving about HP products.
Technorati uses the Yahoo! network to display ads, so some of my searches on Technorati were displaying HP's "Get the Facts" ads, but again, the appearance of the ads were so scattered on keywords it had no consistancy of when it would appear.
At reputation management and PR on the Web, HP's failing horribly, and with accusations now flying about that the new Chairman, Mark Hurd, "Knew About The Deception Campaign," and "The Plan is Egggcellent," it doesn't look like this scandal is going to end any time soon. Maybe its time that someone over there get their Public Relations people up to speed on the "Search Marketing" because it is blatantly obvious that they really haven't got a clue how to manage their reputation on the web. I really wonder though, who'd be up for that many headaches?