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Dell: The Power To Do...This?
By: Shawn Paul Wood
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BREAKING: An armed and masked man entered Dell's headquarters in Round Rock, Texas.

BROKE DOWN: This dolt actually worked at the computer maven and thought it would a cute promotional stunt for internal communications, according to local TV affiliate KWTX. Oh yeah, and he didn't bother sharing with many people that he would be wielding a gun. Genius.

Talk about PR run amuck. Internal communications is crucial for any company. It boosts morale. It improves camaraderie. It enhances team building. This? Not so much. According to the article:

"More than two-dozen Round Rock police officers responded Monday after a series of 911 calls from staff members who reported a masked gunman was inside offices on the Round Rock campus of computer giant Dell. The first calls came in at around 10:45 a.m. Monday."

According to the story, it took 15 minutes (and arguably a change of pants since the "perpetrator" probably tinkled in his previous pair) for Bryan A. Chester (age 48, BTW) to confess that this was an "in-house promotional stunt" and that he provided “little or no notice to co-workers, internal security or office executives.”

Let's say that on another planet, this might have been a good idea. Not sharing this stroke of brilliance with your team, I could understand. However, not advising the corner office or the man with a badge downstairs is probably not in the best interest.

Officers, “confirmed Chester’s account, and were able to determine that the incident was simply a poorly timed series of misperceptions and miscommunications,” Round Rock police said in a press release Monday evening.

Ya think?!

In closing, communications is about uncovering all the pitfalls for your client and helping he or she respond to anything. We are supposed to help the client so there will be no surprises during a media interview, a speaking opportunity, or even some internal shindig before the rank and file. That said, you should probably think of what is criminal activity, and what could be construed as such. That may be a nice strategy for the ol' communications plan as well.

Kids, the moral of this story is the next time you think it's a classy PR idea to brandish a piece on the job, wear a mask and do the masked man thing in the spirit of good internal communications, please be sure to send out the memo first.

That, or just wait for Halloween. The End.


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About the Author
Shawn Paul Wood is a hack-turned-flack with more than 20 years of collective journalism, copywriting and marketing communications experience. Shawn Paul is founder of Woodworks Communications in Dallas, Texas. If you need him, ping him here or follow him on Twitter @ShawnPaulWood
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