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How Microsoft announces layoffs will show the company's PR IQ

Gregg Keizer | July 18, 2014
Crisis communications expert spells out how smart companies handle job cuts.

"The decision to eliminate jobs is a very difficult one," said Ballmer in the Jan. 22, 2008, email. He also announced a company-wide meeting for the following day, a meeting that was webcast to accommodate Microsoft's far-flung empire.

Hours later, Microsoft held its fourth quarter 2008 earnings call -- long before the market bell, an unusual step -- and Ballmer participated, which he rarely did. But then-CFO Chris Liddell got the job of reading from a prepared statement at the beginning of the call.

"Today, we have also announced steps we will take to further manage our cost structure," Liddell said then of the belt tightening. "These steps include a reduction in headcount-related costs, including plans to reduce up to 5,000 positions in the areas of research and development, marketing, sales, finance, legal, human resources and IT over the next 18 months, of which 1,400 are effective today."

Liddell also said that there would be no pay raises at Microsoft for the next fiscal year, which started in mid-2009, and talked of reductions in contract workers, travel expenses and marketing expenses.

Microsoft initiated the 2009 layoffs as technology spending plummeted, one of the many side effects of the recession that started the year before.


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