Media Questions APCO’s Advice to HP Board

HP2.jpgThe New York Times published details this morning about meetings between Hewlett-Packard’s (HP) Board and their PR firm APCO Worldwide on how best to handle accusations of sexual harassment against CEO Mark Hurd. The Board took action, Hurd resigned, but now critics are wondering, what if the accusations are proven to be unfounded.

“There is a missing piece here because it doesn’t make sense,” said Shane Greenstein, a business professor at the Kellogg School in the piece.

The truth is, no one knows. It is likely however, the Board knows something we don’t about Hurd’s situation. The other explanation is it is acting as conservatively as possible after the all-out war that broke out just a few years ago when it was discovered that then-Chairwoman Patricia Dunn authorized a clandestine campaign to ferret out who on the Board was leaking information to the press.

Peter Himler, “The Flack” blogger and former head of media relations at the largest of all crisis shops Burson-Marsteller explains crisis comm this way (after beginning with a “no shit Sherlock:”

In crises, decisions are made based on the information available at the time. Every crisis is distinct. There is no set playbook. You go with what you know, even though, a different set of circumstances may manifest later.

There may still be a messenger to shoot though odds are it’s not the “specialist” at APCO.