Company Examples for Chapter 1: Understanding Business Communication (Ethics, Legal, and Technology)

VP Pence at Notre Dame
VP Pence at Notre Dame

Notre Dame Students Walk Out on VP Pence's Commencement Address (May 2017)

About 100 students left the stadium as Vice President Pence delivered his commencement speech. An interesting class discussion could focus on the ethics of their decision and their rationale, which they give in a statement.

Choate Apologizes for History of Abuse (April 2017)

This may be a tough topic for class, but Choate's open letter is interesting. I found it defensive, but maybe students would disagree.

Princess Cruises Apologizes for Oil Dumping (December 2016)

Princess Cruises, owned by Carnival, published several messages to apologize for illegally dumping oil-contaminated waste into the ocean. The company's communications certainly are prolific, but how honestly do they admit wrongdoing, and how well do they rebuild the brand?

Princess Cruises
Princess Cruises

A comment posted on YouTube under the president's video sums up one perspective: "[T]his video needs taking down and a new one with someone who looks sorry is put up. [H]er reading of this is terrible, like watching a 12yr old at a school play." (The writer needs to take one of our classes! But students might agree with his assessment.)

These examples can be used to discuss persuasive strategies (Chapter 7), oral presentations (Chapter 11), and ethics (Chapter 1):


"Bridgegate" Emails Confirm Guilt (November 2016, 2013)

I don't shy away from political topics, and the scandal of NJ Governor Chris Christie's staff closing a bridge lane is a good illustration of how email causes legal trouble. In November 2016, two of his associates were found guilty of creating traffic problems on the George Washington Bridge to retaliate against the Trenton, NJ, major. The email shown here is the most damning evidence in the case. The link, above, includes a written response from Christie and an interview.

Mylan CEO
Mylan CEO

Mylan CEO Defends Pricing (August 2016)

The EpiPen may save your life if you have an allergic reaction, but you'll pay a steep price for it. In this interview, Mylan CEO defends a $400 increase over five years. This is an ethical situation and can be used with Chapter 7 to discuss persuasive strategies.

Older Examples

Collection of companies' social media policies.

Apple's (leaked) social media policy.

Great email exchange by two lawyers (discussed in Chapter 1). Useful to discuss ethics, tone, and more. Here's a PowerPoint file to reveal the messages, and you can read more about the situation here.

Excerpts of Goldman Sachs emails (topic in Chapter 1) collected by the Wall Street Journal. As the WSJ reporter says, "The [Senate] committee will likely use many of the emails to illustrate Goldman's sometimes contradictory and unflattering statements about its role in the mortgage meltdown." Read more here.

National Labor Relations Board's memo about social media policies, 2012.

General Mills statement reverting back to its original legal terms.

A general's email about the value of reading. Read more about the situation.

Facebook communications: Communicating Our Community Standards and Guidelines, 2015.

Former Twitter CEO Dick Costolo's posts taking responsibility for cyberbullying on the site, 2015.