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  D.F.'s Column Archive

December 25, 2006

Crisis Overreaction II: The Investigation!


When last we left our hero, Wickman, external marketing/communications liaison for The Company, he had been hauled before the Corporate Crisis Response Team because an industry trade publication had published a story about The Company that forgot a decimal point and gave the month of May too much credit for punctuality. Today, Wickman makes his defense before the 26 company luminaries who can’t possibly be expected to run their departments at a time like this.


“Mr. Wickman,” said the esteemed Chairman, “this story says we sold our unprofitable division for $15 million. You know very well that we sold it for $15.5 million. What do you have to say for yourself?”


Wickman shuffled some papers. Football picks, actually, but it seemed like paper shuffling could only help at a time like this.


“Steve,” he began . . .


“Please address the chair as Mr. Chairman,” Steve, I mean Mr. Chairman, intoned.


“That will be a little challenging considering that you burped ‘The Star Spangled Banner’ for me at lunch two days ago, Mr. Chairman, but I will give it my best,” Wickman said. “Esteemed members of the committee, and the rest of you, please examine Exhibit A. This is the press release I provided to the Monthly Monitor of Corporate Affairs. You will clearly note that I indicated our sale price of the unprofitable division at $15.5 million.”


Steve the Chairman moved his glasses to the end of his nose. For no reason.


“What is your point, Mr. Wickman?”


“My point is that I gave them the correct information. So it wasn’t my fault. Can I go now?”


Bruce from Legal Affairs bolted up in his chair.


“Mr. Wickman,” Bruce from Legal Affairs said, “the purpose of the press release is to get them to report accurate information. Did they report accurate information?”


“Well, no, Bruce, they didn’t. Oh wait. I don’t suppose I’m supposed to call you Bruce, even though you spent three hours on Monday playing sponge ball in my office. Then again, that day I mainly called you B-Will.”


“Refer to me as Counselor, if you don’t mind,” said Bruce from Legal Affairs, the Counselor otherwise known as B-Will.


“OK, Counselor, no they didn’t report the information quite accurately, but why is that my fault?”


“Because it’s your job to make sure they do. That will be noted in our report.”


Great, Wickman thought. Some lamewad journalist’s disinterest in post-decimal-point data is getting him written up. What could be worse? Then again, if the chairman asked for comments from all 26 committee members, that would be worse.


“I will now entertain comments from the committee members,” said Steve, oh, sorry, the Chairman. “Mr. Alabaster may start, and we’ll go around the table.”


Alabaster shuffled some papers. Also football picks.


“Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, honored guests, esteemed colleagues,” began the Alabaster filibuster. At this, Chairman Steve interrupted his esteemed colleague.


“I would like to ask committee members to limit their comments to 30 minutes each,” he said with a hand gesture that sort of resembled tossing pizza dough. Proceed, Mr. Alabaster.”


But before Alabaster could say a word, Wickman’s friend Schotzsky burst into the room.


“You’ll never believe it!” Schotzsky shouted. “The Company’s stock is up 18 percent because the Monitor story hit the wires! The boss is on Neil Cavuto right now!”


There was only one thing for Steve the Chairman to say.


“Pizza party!”


All 26 committee members ran for the lunch room. Wickman and Schotzsky looked at each other.


“I guess the Corporate Crisis Response Team will declare their investigation a success,” Wickman said. “They’ll get all the credit and I’ll get none. What do you do at a time like this?”


Schotzsky spoke with confidence and purpose: “Sponge ball in your office?”


Wickman thought long and hard about that. “Two out of three.”


Corporate America is saved yet again.


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