Contender Magazine – Turnaround Strategy
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Holmes Report
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Contender Magazine – Turnaround Strategy

Like many software companies today, Commerce One is struggling with the effects of a prolonged economic downturn. Amidst these challenges however, the company is evolving its products and positioning; there is an intense focus on driving early adopter customers for the new platform; and the leadership team is dedicated to rebuilding credibility and confidence in investors and employees.

Paul Holmes

Like many software companies today, Commerce One is struggling with the effects of a prolonged economic downturn. Amidst these challenges however, the company is evolving its products and positioning; there is an intense focus on driving early adopter customers for the new platform; and the leadership team is dedicated to rebuilding credibility and confidence in investors and employees.
The Bottom Line: Commerce One is still a contender, hence the name of the magazine submitted for this award. In order to convey these messages to the industry, HGI pulled together a compendium of feedback from some of the best and brightest in the industry, and a collection of aggressive public relations ideas to help Commerce One turn around and win. Public relations, however, is just one tactic in the strategic fight ahead – thus HGI’s recommendations were presented to the client in the context of a larger turnaround plan presented in the cover story of the attached magazine.
HGI wanted to create an eye-catching roadmap for Commerce One to revamp its corporate image. The theme of the magazine was how to be a true “Contender” and execute on new initiatives while eliminating processes. The goal was to create a tool that all senior executives could rally around and that captured the urgency of HGI’s recommendations.
HGI delivered the content in a magazine format so it was easy for the executives to digest. Additionally, the in-depth audit of press and analysts and historical research on companies that have successfully turned around such as Apple and PeopleSoft, were great proof points to back up HGI’s strategies. The magazine was also a way to introduce HGI to several new Commerce One executives and its unique agency strengths were highlighted throughout.
Once Commerce One provided buy-off, HGI immediately started executing on the aggressive goals laid out in the magazine. A few of the goals and the results associated are highlighted below.
The goals HGI laid out were pulled into a six-month tactical plan that fell into four categories: Pump up the Leadership Brand; Ready for Round Two: Turnaround Story; “TKO” – Make it real with Technical Knock Out; and Build Your Fan Club: Employee Communications.
 HGI hand selected the top 10 influencers that Commerce One needed to meet with in order to turn around. As of January 31, 2003 Commerce One achieved 75% of that goal by meeting with industry heavyweights such as John Hagel (author), Kevin Werbach (editor and sponsor of events), Steve Gillmor (editor) and Steve Hamm (editor), to name a few.
 Part of HGI’s strategy was to invite editor Steve Hamm to share in employee events and listen in as the executive team planned activities to re-motivate the troops.  HGI worked with Steve for four months on a corporate profile piece that turned into two feature stories in the February 3, 2003 issue of BusinessWeek. One of the four-page features discusses Commerce One’s chance of escaping from the ranks of the “tech zombies”.
Commerce One 6.0 launch is planned for March 2003. HGI has lined up a product review and has been instrumental in the new product messaging. HGI has also outlined a full press and analyst tour with 80 targets, highlighting the company’s early adopter customers.
Commerce One executives have started executing on their goals, too. By reestablishing monthly “Town Hall” meetings, CEO and chairman Mark Hoffman has started discussing progress towards these goals with employees in an open forum discussion. Anonymous email drop boxes that Mark reads personally and “power lunches” with the staff are also part of the effort to bolster employee relations.
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