Caution: Rough Road Ahead in Press Relations

Did you see this news last week? The Woman Transforming Oracle’s Salesforce Says She Was Fired After Talking To A Reporter.  According to the article, star Eloqua salesperson Jilrough roadl Rowley was working on a project to train 23,000 Oracle sales people on leveraging social media (LinkedIn, Twitter etc.) in their jobs and she was fired after describing her work to a reporter at Advertising Age.  Apparently, she violated Oracle’s social media participation policy.

I first met Jill when I was running marketing at VoiceObjects in 2007 and we worked with Jill to purchase Eloqua to run our email marketing campaigns. It seemed that lots of my colleagues in the Bay Area purchased Eloqua from Jill and she became a famous sales rep with her never ending energy and engaging personality.  In good humor, she called herself “EloQueen” on her business card.

When Eloqua was purchased by Oracle, Jill found herself in a new role leveraging the sales skills she had developed through the keen use of social media.  To me training Oracle sales people on social media was a perfect fit! So I was quite surprised by reading that she had been fired.

The irony of course is that we live in a world today where seemingly everyone is expressing themselves by blogging or through social media sites.  So the definition of a reporter is definitely getting blurred.  Isn’t everyone now a reporter?  So what’s the really difference between writing a tweet and talking to a reporter?  Don’t reporters report on what people are tweeting?

When I was at Oracle between 1988 and 1998, the company had really strict rules about talking to the press which almost everyone followed.  But I don’t know anyone who got fired for talking to a reporter.  Other things yes, but not talking to a reporter!

I don’t know the whole story of course but this event seems to be a really interesting . PR is not focused on press releases and controlled messages but more and more on social media postings.

Good luck Jill with your new consulting business!

Bonnie Crater

About Bonnie Crater

Bonnie is a 5-time VP of Marketing at Genesys, Netscape, Oracle (Network Computer Inc.), Stratify, and VoiceObjects. While valuing the creative side of marketing, Bonnie's real love is marketing operations -- measuring marketing investments and determining investment optimization. Now as CEO of Full Circle Insights, Bonnie is working to help fellow marketers get the data needed to succeed. In 2000, Bonnie was named one of the “Top 20 Female Executives in Silicon Valley” by San Jose Magazine. Bonnie holds a B.A. in biology from Princeton University.