Let Freedom Ring

Boy, am I glad I didn’t take Vonage’s “insider” offer to buy its stock at the IPO price of between $16-$18 a share! The stock closed at $3 on Friday. Thank you very much, Verizon.

As a Vonage customer, I’m generally pleased by the service — except of course when the phone dies and I have to unplug the company-supplied router, or when my Vonage website fails to list who called, or when the three-way calling is only two-thirds working. Otherwise, I like paying $24.95/month versus the $70+/- monthly for my former Verizon land line.

It’s this last item that the “woo-who woo-who-who” company hopes to leverage in a so-called “PR campaign” intended to stick it to the nation’s second largest telecommunications company. Actually, it’s less a PR campaign as much as it is a issues-driven advertising campaign that’s spilling over into the PR realm.

The full-page advertorials, which The Wall Street Journal only accepted with certain Verizon-offending language removed, seem to be producing the desired effect. The ads, and their sibling website, cloaked by the heroic-sounding URL “freetocompete.com,” have succeeded in making news of net neutrality and the David v. Goliath quashing of a lower-priced competitor.

Nevertheless, Verizon and its spokesperson Eric Rabe, a friend, need only point to the recent court ruling in which Vonage was found to have infringed on a few of Verizon’s VOIP patents. Rabe called the new campaign:

…a “distraction” from Verizon’s assertion that Vonage is violating its Web-calling patents. And said that Vonage “is trying to shift the subject from their bad and now declared illegal behavior.”

Maybe so, Eric, but desperate times demand desperate measures. Of particular interest to this blogger is Vonage’s decision to let a law firm take the lead on the PR front. Milberg Weiss Justice, a division of the venerable white-shoed law firm, operates, like us, in the court of public opinion versus the court of judicial opinion — the traditional domain of its parent. It’s one-stop shopping covering both the public and legal appeals. Curiously, The American Lawyer reports big profits at the all the top law firms.