Hewlett Packard defends 'threat' email sent to FT: 'No reporter should be above hearing feedback from advertisers'

Technology company Hewlett Packard has hit back after being accused by FT columnist Lucy Kellaway of sending her an aggressive email.

Kellaway wrote a piece which poked fun at Hewlett Packard Enterprise chief executive Meg Whitman over her "nonsense" Davos soundbite: "You can always go faster than you think you can."

The company's chief marketing and communications officer Henry Gomez told Kellaway: "FT management should consider the impact of unacceptable biases on its relationships with advertisers.”

In a piece headlined "Old-school reply to advertiser’s threat", Kellaway said: "It is my editors’ steadfast refusal to consider the impact of stories on advertisers that makes us the decent newspaper we are."

Now Hewlett Packard's senior vice president of pubic relations Howard Clabo has responded to Kellaway's second piece.

He said:  "As you can see from the actual email, Mr. Gomez very respectfully expressed his concerns about what he felt was a serious mischaracterization of Ms. Whitman’s remarks. Mr. Gomez’s email was sent to Ms. Kellaway and the FT’s business management team.  No reporter or news media outlet should be above hearing honest feedback from readers or advertisers."

Here is the relevant extract from Kellaway's piece:

"I admire the Whitman aphorism for its simple syntax and nice short words. The only trouble with it is that it’s nonsense. Often in business you can’t go nearly as fast as you fondly think you can. When you try, you fall on your face — and Ms Whitman, of all people, should know that. If her predecessor at HP hadn’t been quite so hasty in buying Autonomy, it would have saved itself a big mess."

Here is the Gomez email in full:

"Lucy – I am the chief marketing and communications officer at Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE).  I read your column this week, “Boneheaded Aphorisms from Davos’s Windy Summit.”  I was disappointed to see you mischaracterize Meg’s remarks to fit the narrative of your piece. 

"Meg’s comment about companies 'going faster' was about the reality of IT transformations and change management at large, global companies.  I don’t understand how you can suggest that what she said was 'nonsense'. 

"As the leader of one of the world’s largest IT companies and an organization that recently underwent a major separation, Meg has a well-founded perspective on this matter. And have you noticed what’s going on in business today?

"Furthermore, Autonomy had nothing to do with the point Meg was making. Given the context of her remark in Davos, it was a remarkable stretch to connect what she said to the acquisition of Autonomy. Clearly, you were looking for a snide way to fit Meg and HPE into your piece.

"Obviously, you and the FT are free to write about the topics you select.  I’ve read your bio and respect your right to 'poke fun' at management.  But you still have an obligation to get it right. And FT management should consider the impact of unacceptable biases on its relationships with advertisers.



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