08:36 AM

A Silicon Valley veteran offers an explanation on top marcoms shuffles at top tech companies

The following is an email from a long-time Silicon Valley communications professional, who prefers not to be named. It is in response to our recent post on changes in top marcomms positions at leading Silicon Valley companies.

Hi Tom,

Hope all's well. Read your blog this morning and couldn't resist offering my two cents on the senior marcomms piece. In my 20 years toiling away in marketing and corporate communications roles, I've seen time and again that whenever an organization is undergoing significant change and faces more than the usual set of business challenges, the tendency is to park many of the problems at the feet of the senior communications person, who is given the job of "fixing up" the company's image.

The naive thinking is that he or she can wave a magic wand and simply make media, analysts, employees, investors, suppliers and any other significant audience think and say nice things about the organization.

Never mind that the senior communications person typically has no direct authority over sales, operations, personnel or senior management. More often than not, the organization has been on a steady decline or in a state of churn over a period of quarters &mdash and the problems are usually more than superficial. Often they're systemic.

Ultimately the only way to fix the image is to first fix the reality, but often times the senior management, board, etc. is too impatient and they want the improved image to precede the fixed company. I can almost hear the CEO/board members at the companies you mention tasking the communications leader to "make everything right out there &mdash and overnight, please, as there's no time to waste!"

It's often a proposition doomed to fail. Even in the best circumstances it can be a thankless assignment. When companies do manage through a turnaround or rough patch, how often does the senior marcomms person appear on the cover of a business magazine, or become the toast of Wall Street? Just some thoughts to consider...