Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Adventures in Flackery: Dell Edition

When Dell Inc. recently laid off workers at plant in Forsyth County, North Carolina, reporters at the local paper had a "simple question": How many people worked there? Seeing as how the local government had provided about $305 million in incentives related to the $115 million plant, the request would seem reasonable to most. Unless, of course, you work in PR.

We only wanted a straight answer to a simple question -- How many people work at the plant? -- for one simple reason: The number of employees is linked to the payment of incentives.
In the days after the announcement of layoffs, finding out how many people worked at Dell was nearly impossible. Media outlets reported that the plant employed 1,150. Mayor Allen Joines, the head cheerleader for the Dell deal, said that 1,400 people worked there. So which is it?
Ask a simple question, and sometimes you get an idiotic answer.
"Which is the correct number for Dell employees at the Forsyth plant?" Richard Craver, a business reporter for the Winston-Salem Journal, asked a corporate spokesmen in an e-mail Friday.
"We are no longer providing specific site-employment totals," replied Dell flack David Frink.
Pressed a second time, Frink shot this back: "We are not engaging in additional dialogue on this subject."

I give the reporter credit for actually naming the useless flack, unlike some other newspapers I know.

If Dell is really looking to save money, I have a suggestion: Fire the PR department. An automated e-mail response system could easily take over the work they appear to do. Since I'm a nice guy, I have even take the time to draw up a boilerplate e-mail that I think sums up Dell's respect for its stakeholders:

Dear journalist/shareholder/concerned citizen:

Thank you for taking the time to contact us. Whatever stake you may have in our company, we hold ourselves accountable to neither investors nor the public. We will therefore disregard this and all future inquiries.

Go [expletive deleted]* yourself,

*This is a family blog after all

[H/T: Talking Business News]

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