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I received an email today from a legal IT vendor saying they were attaching a copy of a letter they had just sent out to all their customers denying rumours that they were about to close down.

What?

As it happens I had not heard the rumour but there again I hadn’t heard very much from them recently, period. However, as the company in question is a niche UK player and not one that crosses my radar screen very often, this lack of communications would not normally ring any alarm bells. (It remains a source of fascination at Insider Towers as to just how bad many legal IT vendors are when it comes to communicating their messages.) But… to issue a statement denying they are in trouble…

Are they mad? Have they never heard the phrase “there is no smoke without fire” ? Now, not only me but also all their customers have been alerted to the fact that something must be happening or else why would rumours be spreading.

This is corporate communications #101 – never actively draw attention to bad news about yourself (unless it is totally unavoidable) and certainly not rumours, as it only serves to publicise them and give them credence.

Your customers will typically be far less interested in industry gossip than you are and will more than likely be unaware of the rumours. In fact most law firm staff (other than within the IT department) will be unaware of what specific software applications they are using.

So, to quote the old song, if you are the subject of rumours (unfounded or otherwise) don’t dwell on them. Eliminate the negative and accentuate the positive. Come out with some good news stories about your activities instead.