In which the staff left behind at Pemberley Digital make a surprising decision about how to respond to the Domino demos.
Offices of Pemberley Digital, San Francisco
Monday, 8 AM: Emergency Inter-Departmental Strategy Session
The press release lay on the polished conference table, silently mocking Pemberley Digital’s General Manager, Reynolds.
“Who released this?”
“Very funny, Miss Hurst. We are all aware that we did. What I want to know is how that happened?”
“I’ll start simpler then. Who wrote it?”
Reynolds’ steely glare took in the stoic faces of her fellow department heads. All of whom were gazing very intently at their navels.
She turned back to the twitchy administrative assistant of her very absent head of PR.
“Louisa. You know. Tell me.”
Morland, head of product design, tried to rescue her. “Maybe we should focus on the root of the problem rather than the press release-“
“We can’t focus on the root of the problem. That is out of our control!”
“But Elliot assured me that they are working on disabling the auto-update-“
“I wish to GOD Domino was the problem, Morland. Buggy software we can deal with.”
Muttering to herself, Reynolds’ dropped two Alka-seltzer in a glass of water and greedily slurped it down.
“The catastrophe herself,” she collapsed into the chair,”simply cannot be reasoned with.”
“She is very persuasive.”
“It’s not her powers of persuasion- it’s the damn sad kitten face.”
“Impossible to say no to.”
“Feels like clubbing a baby seal.”
“If we can’t club her, can we muzzle her?” Morland suggested.
“Be my guest. Update the resume while you’re at it. I hear Tilney Group’s making a push into new media, maybe they’re hiring.”
“I hear they keep the offices extra cold to induce the programmers to work faster.”
“No roof access anymore because of the jumpers.”
“At the company retreat, they hunt the new recruits for sport.”
“Loser has to clean the Abbey with a toothbrush.”
“Only company in town that has to keep three psychiatrists on call at all times.”
“Enough,” Reynolds interjected, “Nobody is moving to Tilney Group because nobody is going to talk to Georgiana Darcy, understood?”
“Maybe the CEO could talk to her.” Louisa suggested.
“If only we could talk to the CEO.” Webbs, from Legal, sulked.
“You haven’t? Still?”
“Everything gets routed through Williams.”
“Precisely,” Reynolds seized the conversation again. ”Ms Darcy is beyond our control. The only thing we can control is how the company responds. Which brings me back to this,” she shoved the press release across the table.
“‘Pemberley’s Domino Prototype Launches to Rave Reviews, Occasional Crying.’ How did this get past Palmer? Where is your boss, Miss Hurst?” She turned to Louisa.
“The flu,” Louisa offered timidly.
“The flu?” Reynolds repeated.
“Every departments been hit by it-“
“Mine hasn’t,” Morland piped up cheerfully.
“That’s because the only outside world you or your programmers interact with on a daily basis is Azaroth. Just get your team leader in line Morland- I can’t believe Elliot gave that quote- was she drunk?”
“Anne doesn’t drink-“
“Never mind, who, exactly, is in charge of PR now Louisa?”
“That’s difficult to answer.” Louisa chewed her lip.
Reynolds leaned her head back in her chair and rubbed her temples. ”How difficult can it be? If Palmer is out, than Chamberlayne-“
“Is also sick.”
“Well, not anymore, sir.”
“So you are telling me that I have an entire PR department being run by- what, assistants and interns?”
“We few, we happy few.”
“Merciful God- and no one wants to give up the intern, is that it?”
“Well, we can’t really afford for anyone else to quit.”
“If it was Yates, we can afford to lose him.”
“It wasn’t Yates.”
Louisa gave her an incredulous look.
“You’re right, Richard would never do anything this foolish, this impulsive, this giddy-“
She raised an eyebrow at Louisa.
Louisa looked at the table.
“Of course it is, the whole thing reeks of Woodhouse.”
“She meant well-“
“She always does. I thought we had a protocol in place- how did she get it past Taylor, she’s supposed to be supervising her?”
“Taylor is on her honeymoon, sir.”
“Again, not anymore, sir. But she left Emma with-“
Louisa didn’t finish her thought as her phone vibrated.
“Fine, fine, just get Woodhouse on the line, let’s at least make sure this doesn’t happen again.”
“You can’t, sir,” Louisa looked up from her phone, “she just resigned.”
“Again? Why? I haven’t even yelled at her yet!”
“She had to, sir, apparently her father felt the job was taking her too far away from home.”
“She was telecommuting!”
“Mentally away from home, sir.” Louisa looked apologetic. ”I think he’s off his medication again.”
Reynolds sighed. ”That…well that is very unfortunate. He was a brilliant man, in his time. Send a fruit basket and let her know if she ever wants to come back, yada yada.”
Louisa smiled. ”You’re very good, Ms Reynods.”
“I’m nothing of the sort, and don’t start spreading rumors. Speaking of, we need a consensus on how we are going to handle this in the coming weeks.”
“So we really can’t keep her from posting?”
“Baby seal, Morland, baby seal, pay attention. Another one of these disasters is due in less than 48 hours and I want all departments presenting a united front to minimize the damage.”
Metcalfe from Finance raised her hand. ”And what kind of a front is that going to be, how do we spin this to the board, the investors, the public?”
“We are going to do a full Mansfield.”
“Act as if absolutely nothing is wrong. Business as usual. There is nothing whatsoever embarrassing or unusual about our CEO’s family business being published for the entire world to see in the course of promoting our latest application.”
“And you think that will work?”
“Everyone said Mansfield Corp would never survive after the incident last year, and yet-“
“But that was purely personal, it was a sex scandal.”
“I thought it was child labor allegations?”
“It was both. But the point is Tom Bertram never spoke about it in the press, just continued to refine their product, and now that organic coffee sells like liquid gold. Crawford Industries, on the other hand, made every public excuse under the sun to cover up their involvement, and still went under. We keep our mouths shut.”
“But we might be missing an opportunity,” Webbs, head of Legal, piped in.
“What kind of an opportunity?” Morland scoffed, “This does not show Domino in a favorable light. The less attention we draw to it now, the better.”
“Not for Domino, for Pemberley Digital.”
Reynolds looked doubtful. ”How?”
“We can make this a strength.”
“It’s completely unprofessional behavior by the heiress of Pemberley Digital. HOW is that going to read as a strength?”
“Because she’s a baby seal.”
“We make this less about what the demos show about Domino, and more about how they make you feel, about the Darcys. Like you said, only someone who enjoys seal bludgeoning could watch these and not like Ms Darcy, flaws and all. We use that goodwill to spotlight how this reveals the very human side of Pemberley Digital.”
“The human side?”
“You have to admit, if our CEO has a weakness it is in his ability to connect with collaborators on a personal level. These dialogues give him a less…robotic public persona.”
“But he’s not being very nice to her-” Louisa added.
“He’s protective of his family,” Webbs interpreted triumphantly. ”Every parent we do business with will eat it up.”
” ‘At Pemberley, you’re like family.’ ” Louisa summarized.
“I like it.” Morland nodded.
“We’re open, progressive, transparant. You know who you are doing business with.” Reynolds stopped massaging her temples.
“It will certainly distinguish us from our more secretive competition- like Tilney Group.” Webbs added.
“Next to the Darcys, Tilney looks like Voldemort.” Metcalf grinned.
“I hear his wife’s death wasn’t an accident.”
“That’s an urban legend.”
“I hear no mortal man can kill him.”
“That…might be true.”
“The material point is that their company is notoriously secretive. By contrast, we look innovative, warm, protective-“
“And it gives us time to let Elliot and the team run a private test of Domino on the internal server to get it ready for release.”
Reynolds sighed. ”Fine. But no more press releases, we’re still Mansfielding this. You can drop hints in new media, just a few, don’t make it look like we think there’s any damage we’re desperate to control.”
“Got it.” Louisa began composing a tweet.
“In the meantime, no one talks to or touches anyone from the PR department.”
“Not until I get a team in to sterilize the office and see proof of vaccination from every employee before entering the building.”
“I don’t think you can do th-“
“You’re full of disease, all of you. I will not let this company be brought to its knees by a single-celled organism.”
“You sound like Emma’s dad.”
“Does he have the flu?”
“Then maybe we can learn something from him. Now go back to your office, and don’t touch anything or come within ten feet of anyone’s desk on the way.”