Remember the old adage, “give someone good service and they’ll tell one other person, but give them bad service, and they’ll tell 10?”? Well, welcome to the world of social media, where instead of telling 10 people, stakeholders can now tell hundreds or thousands of people in under 140 characters.
Last week, one of my friends was complaining about TD Bank. She had not been able to do online banking for at least five days; the phone lines were jammed and deposits were not posting correctly. She was surprised by the lack of media coverage, especially considering the many tweets about the issues. By late Wednesday, TD Bank started talking to the media, so stories started popping up, like this one from NBC New York. But, the issue continued, and customers felt neglected.
PR people can learn from this experience. We all need to be monitoring what is being said about our company, organization or brands on a regular basis, so we can share information before the story takes on a life of its own. We all remember and never want to deal with the likes of this “United Breaks Guitars” YouTube video from a few months ago or the one below.
At the PRSA-NCC Thoth News Seminar last week, Debbi Jarvis, vice president corporate communications, Pepco, relayed their strategy. Jarvis believes it is extremely important to keep communication with the public in the PR department. After all, communicators are trained to be able to best relay the company messages. I spoke with Andre Francis, who manages the @PepcoConnect Twitter account. He is constantly monitoring mentions of Pepco and other industry terms. He has a procedural strategy in place for contacting customers, and getting a sense of their issue. He will ask them to e-mail him a full description, and then he works with Pepco customer care to resolve the issue.
At the Baltimore Public Relations Council’s September Conference, “PR Survival: Online, on the Job and in the Future,” several of the presenters reminded attendees to be transparent and pro-active with their communication to the public and media. In my presentation, I used a BurrellesLuce example, where monitoring Twitter helped us address a complaint and gain a customer advocate.
Can you share some of your public relations/customer relations best practices? How is your organization integrating PR, customer service and marketing successfully?