Heard on Twitter about a big brand: Apparently the brand is using multiple word of mouth agencies on blogger outreach programs for the same company initiative. Some of the agencies are offering compensation for posts, others not. Here’s the kicker though: some bloggers are getting both sorts of pitches. For the same program. Ouch!
And before you ask: yes I know who it is, no I am not telling, and I’d appreciate it if my readers do not “out” the brand in the comments either. I’m telling this story to make a point, not to embarrass anyone.
Here’s the lesson. It’s okay to have different programs for the same initiative. Just make sure the programs are highly differentiated, especially if some include compensation and others do not. And for heaven’s sake, de-dupe the lists, and do your best to make sure that bloggers only get ONE of the pitches.
Too fat to fly? The ‘net was all a-twitter over the weekend and yesterday about the @ThatKevinSmith and Southwest Air incident Saturday. It was all over the mainstream media as well, but just in case you missed it (on vacation at the South Pole, crossing Alaska with a dog team, climbing Mt. Everest, etc.), here’s the short story.
Director Kevin Smith (“Clerks”) was asked to get off a full Southwest flight from Oakland to Burbank last Saturday for “safety reasons.” He twittered about it as it was happening, and later released a special, very long, very ranty episode of his podcast with the blow by blow.
Smith has 1.6 million Twitter followers, so the whole thing blew up hard and fast. And of course, the whole situation was further fueled by the fat/thin debate.
Eventually, Southwest apologized, sort of but not really, which further inflamed Smith. They then apologized again, as detailed in both this Nuts about Southwest post and Smith’s final word on the subject in his blog.
I’m not going to do a blow by blow analysis. The pundits have analyzed this thing to death, and it’s pretty clear that this was a customer service snafu that evolved into a full-blown communications crisis due to bad decisions and the power of social networks.
Southwest has learned a hard lesson. What can we learn from it?
First, exercise a little common sense. The entire situation could have been avoided in multiple ways. First, the obvious — just let the man fly. Southwest also could have chosen to NOT clear Smith from the standby list if they were truly already hyper-aware of fliers with “safety issues.” Is that right? No, of course not. It’s awful and stupid and ugly. But, it would have avoided the problem. Putting the man on the flight and then taking him off is the problem, because, truly, he didn’t get any fatter while waiting to board the flight.
Second, and I know others have said this as well: When you apologize to someone, you really should apologize for the thing that actually upset the other party. Otherwise, it isn’t an apology. It’s a justification. The lawyers may not like it, but good customer relations demands it. When you screw up, own it. All of it.
Enough of this. I may write about this on my travel blog this weekend — after I fly Southwest to Houston for Mom 2.0. The airlines — all of them — do have a problem. As they try to pack more seats into each plane and then pack each plane to capacity to improve the bottom line, the US population is getting larger. It’s not good. It just is.
Finally, I meant to post this weeks ago, but forgot. The second edition of David Meerman Scott’s book, The New Rules of Marketing and PR (Amazon affiliate link), has just been released. While I don’t agree with all of David’s tactics, it’s a good introductory text on how to use social media in your marketing plan.
What don’t I agree with? I am a profound opponent of using press releases to reach customers. News, yes. The press release form, no. Otherwise, our approaches to integrating marketing and social media are pretty similar.