We’re Not All Jack Kennedys
(or how I learned to stop worrying and love the blog)
If the old success model for public relations was, “He who shouts loudest wins,” then the new model may well be, “He who listens hardest prevails.” As Ogilvy PR guru John Bell offers in his blog on Leader’s Perspective: The idea is to actively engage in a two- way discussion with customers and influencers. Really listen and respond to your customers, especially when they are intelligently commentlng and/or complaining about valid concerns, as in Bell’s experience with his new Bose earbuds. NeilsonBuzz Metric’s Pete Blackshaw even offers a new acronym: Listening-Centered Marketing, or LCM. Both advocate that building greater brand loyalty or issue advocacy through the new two-way communications paradigm is of much greater long term value than a single sale or single vote was in days past.
But in today’s crowded blogospheres, congested internet highways and overfilled portals, how can a PR voice of reason rise above the din? How do you single yourself or your message out with class and credibility?
The Trusted Advisor offers a simple plan: get good people on your team to represent the company, look for win-win solutions to problems a customer may be having, and commit to next steps.
Today, I’m wearily happy to report that both Apple and Avid are actively listening and working with their customers to ensure brand loyalty and positive solutions.
This week I’ve been in my own version of “Dell Hell.” On one side I’m a MacAddict with unfailing loyalty to the brand (only ever owned Apple, never wanted or needed to be PC.) On the other side I’m a loyal Avid user. Avid, which makes the absolute best video editing software ever, defected to Microsoft a few years ago and has ticked many, many people off in the process. Many of my clients have moved their Avids to PC workstations, or even worse, to Final Cut Pro, Apple’s poor man’s version of the Avid. FCP is way, way cheaper, and works without going through hell and high water with every software upgrade. Anyway, this “Perfect Storm” combination of Intel Mac upgrades and Avid dongle dumper disasters has made my life miserable this week. After working in Final Cut Pro for the last five (count ‘em one, two, three, four, five long) months, I was so excited to be back on Avid.
Anyway, long story a little longer (hope you’re not totally confused or bored), both Apple and Avid rose to the occasion in terms of customer service. Apple walked me through downgrading my system to 10.4.8. Avid twice Fed Ex-ed the software and hardware I need to get back in business.
Golden Lessons Learned
So my lessons learned, that I would share with the public relations professionals of the world: Make sure that the people on the your side of the customer service lines are professional, courteous and dedicated. My long, painful saga took many forms: online help, telephone help, physical help. (And I can only hope and pray that on Monday it is over.) But in the meantime I’m at peace that the issues will be resolved in a way that makes me happy.
I’m a member of two professional groups and one discussion group in which Avid is a frequent topic (or the central topic). By keeping one customer happy, with some hours of support and hand-holding, along with minimal shipping charges to swallow, the public relations gained is pure gold. Instead of blasting Avid, I’ll continue to be a disciple.
So what does this have to do with the price of oil in Scotland or my reference to Jack Kennedy?
The problem with User Generated Content, or Social Generated Media is: Who cares? What makes my blog, or Slave to Target, or any of the 48 million blogs out there stand out? Why should I read any of them? What makes one special? I guess it’s the pureness of intent. We are all just expressing honest opinions about what matters to us. (Although maybe I’ll be lucky and crowned “authoritative” by Technorati one day, or maybe someone will start paying me to have an opinion, like my fave columnist Jeanne Marie Laskas.)
In the meantime, I can swim through the digital ocean in my quest to find connectedness and meaning in my day. As Jim Nail says, sometimes a marketer finds answers to questions they didn’t even know they were supposed to ask. I guess that’s the ultimate point. How can we know everything we’re supposed to know? There isn’t enough time in a lifetime, much less in a day, to absorb the knowledge and information out there. First there was Gutenburg and the printing press. Then, Marconi, Alexander Graham Bell, and you know I have to plug him, Al Gore, who came in and championed the internet.* Okay, so he’s no Jack Kennedy, but he’s a lot closer than Dan Quayle ever was, or for that matter, Bush 41’s little boy.
*According to Vincent Cerf, a senior vice president with MCI Worldcom who’s been called the Father of the Internet, “The Internet would not be where it is in the United States without the strong support given to it and related research areas by the Vice President in his current role and in his earlier role as Senator.”