Office Hours

How to make a mistake when trying to decipher cryptic company press releases

Entry revised on 11/06/13 12:12 PM

I made a fairly major mistake last week dealing with a business section news item, related to Coldwater Creek. The Sandpoint women's retailer sent out a release saying it would restructure and cut expenses significantly.

It provided a few numbers but did not provide exact numbers on the impact on jobs, which is what many people really care about.

In the absence of information, I tried to generate some of the missing data, and I messed it up.

Here's the scenario that I hope others can learn from: The release from CC said its efforts would reduce "corporate workforce" expenses by 20 percent.  It didn't say how many jobs that meant, and an effort to reach the company for that number did not succeed.

I needed to get some kind of number and I assumed I could work it out, based on public information. I will skip the math I used to come up with the conclusion that "several hundred jobs" would be cut. Using limited absolute numbers, I figured  it would come to at least 300 jobs. 

The next day company representatives informed me that “several hundred” was wrong and I was told it was “less than 100.” We corrected the online story and ran a correction the next day.

I made an inquiry about the types of jobs cut or how to understand "corporate workforce," but I failed to get additional clarification.

An inside company person said the job number at the Sandpoint office and headquarters was "around 50." But that was an unofficial guess not for the record.

 

 

 




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The Spokesman-Review business team follows economic development in Spokane and the Inland Northwest.








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