Putting Positive Spin on Layoff Notices

Today’s Lesson in Corporate FlackSpeak 101

Good morning class, this is Professor Bill. Hope you’ve all had your coffee already on this fine morning, because we’re going to dive right into today’s lesson plan. You’ll notice on your syllabus for Introduction to Corporate FlackSpeak, that today we will learn how to make a mass layoff notice sound like a positive business development in the media.

As you well know as aspiring young Corporate Flacks, your CEO and Board of Directors masters will be counting on your ability when being interviewed by a business stenographer … I’m sorry, Freudian slip … a business reporter, to point at a big bowl of shit and call it chocolate ice cream. It is very important that you learn to do this properly, because if mishandled it could lead to a loss of investor confidence, which would quickly be followed by the loss of your own job.

Got that? I see you nodding eagerly. You are such a great class. Attentive and docile and not overly bright.

Anyway, up here on the blackboard I have written down some terrific real world examples from just the past month or so of how your brothers and sisters already out there in the corporate world have successfully placed a positive spin on mass layoff notices. Please make sure you memorize these for the exam:

“The company is doing what it needs to rightsize and be more competitive.”
— CoreLogic

“Through a more efficient organizational structure, we can optimize our use of resources and great potential for further growth increase. This will strengthen our long term position in the dynamic market for online games. We take responsibility for our employees very seriously and strive to find a socially responsible solution for the affected team members.”
— Gameforge

“We have an obligation to make tough decisions when necessary to improve profitability and strengthen our financial position.”
— Lowes

“…we announced a global restructuring to our Western publishing team.”
— NCsoft

“Motorola Mobility continues to focus on improving its financial performance by taking actions to manage the company’s costs.”
— Motorola

“We’ve determined that we’re really going to fundamentally transform the way The Hartford operates, by really creating a simpler, more efficient and flexible organization,”
— The Hartford Insurance

“We believe our cost and capacity reduction initiatives, recently announced cost-based price increases and innovative product launches will enable us to expand operating margins and deliver long-term value to shareholders.”
— Whirlpool

“We went too far down the creative path and lost our way in terms of being a profitable organization. While today is a tough day, I am incredibly bullish on the business going forward.”
— Rock You (social game developer)

“The layoffs are part of a plan to win stronger deals from merchant partners and ensure growth.”
— Groupon

“This is a difficult but necessary decision that will better position Itron to succeed in today’s increasingly competitive market and create value for stockholders,”
— Itron

“Through this program, Philips is investing in growth, addressing structural change, focusing on execution, reducing overhead costs and adopting a new company culture.”
— Royal Phllips Electronics

“… given the uncertain global economic outlook, we felt it was prudent to realign our operating expenses and trim our cost base.”
— Erickson-Air Crane

“We must take painful, yet necessary, steps to align our workforce and operations with our path forward.”
– Nokia

“We strongly believe that the court-supervised restructuring we began today is the most effective means of strengthening our financial position and enhancing our standing as the leading producer of printing and specialty paper in North America.”
— New Page Corporation

Did you little bastards get all of that? Good, very good. Always remember, everything that happens to your company must be made to sound like a positive no matter how awful the truth is or how much devastation it causes to the lives of real people.

The exam will be next Tuesday. I expect that everyone here will pass with flying colors.

William Hicks lives in Northern Virginia writes about peak oil and economic issues on his blog, The Downward Spiral, a Requiem for the American Dream. Read other articles by William.