One: The Notion That the Media Puts Jobs At Risk At Sears and/or Hurts Employee Morale
I feel the need to lead off by saying Sears VP of Corporate Communications, Chris Brathwaite, is taking too much flak. It's not that I don't think he's as misguided as the rest of Sears' management; it's just that it's his job to be misguided.
Brathwaite, who has been getting trashed for how he responded, on Twitter, to what went down last weekend doesn't, as far as I know, make the strategic decisions at Sears. He hasn't put into motion a plan that can't possibly work. He doesn't walk into stores and trash the shelves. He doesn't create the toxic business and on-the-ground conditions that exist at Sears.
But, for better or worse, it's his job to spearhead and facilitate Sears' public response day-to-day and, in specific instances, such as last weekend or in the aftermath of Sears' horrible guidance.I'm not saying the guy handles every situation perfectly. He doesn't. And has admitted as much. But you must understand he's working with what the people above him provide. And that's not much. I despise this phrase, but, if there was ever a situation where it's apropos, it's this one: If you're in corporate communications at Sears, your job is to apply lipstick to a pig. Granted, if Brathwaite doesn't buy into what he's commissioned to do (and I really have no way of knowing whether or not he believes in Sears' prospects), he can find another job. More on the notion of buying into a Sears turnaround (or not) under the next subheading, but this conversation applies here because, in my phone conversations with Brathwaite (there have been two over the last week), he seems like a well-intentioned and bright guy. That said, if he's not looking for a gig, he needs to start ... now. Every day he -- and anybody else for that matter -- spends at Sears degrades the value of having good intentions and being bright. It's one thing to hide your light under a bushel; it's entirely another to expose yourself as inept when, in all reality, it's the hacks above you who deserve 99.9% of the blame. Brathwaite and others did screw up, however, when they infer, to any extent, that the media or an analyst deserves even a shred of responsibility for people losing their jobs or low employee morale at Sears.