Last Thursday, June 18th - First day of the US Open in Bethpage, Long Island and barely half of the players ever even teed off due to rain. But 50,000 fans certainly got teed off. What did the USGA initially tell ticketholders who ponied up over $100 per ticket, took the day off from work and slogged through the rain? Too bad, no refunds, nothing!
The New York Yankees happened to have a game at the same time, same day, but they chose a different tact: To all who paid for a ticket for the day game against the Washington Nationals - even if they didn't bother braving the weather to come to The Bronx - use your ticket (or stub) and you're welcome to come back for another game this season or next. And, if you did come to the stadium and you're sitting in the bleachers - come on down and sit in the good seats. Why not?
Why not indeed.
It seems unfathomable that any organization would not make some effort - any effort- to provide some kind of consideration for customers (fans) when forces beyond their control ruin the experience. From a communicator's perspective, this should be rule #1 in protecting reputations: give the customer something! Many will claim that this is an unfair comparison. The New York Yankees is a wealthy corporation with 80+ home games to spread out those 50,000 free tickets, while the USGA is a not-for-profit, mostly volunteer-based organization that only holds a dozen or so events each year.
We're not suggesting that the USGA should have matched what the Yankees have done. But, do something! Offer a discount to the next PGA event. Send them a souvenir. Grant them a year's free membership. The USGA has a good reputation, but in this one instance, they should actually have taken a page from the Yankee PR playbook!
Eventually, the USGA offered 50% refunds or the opportunity to attend the Monday final round to those stranded first-round ticketholders...
But the questions for communicators remain:
Did the initial reaction by the USGA damage to its reputation?
Did the USGA act too slowly?
Would you have advised differently?
What other recent examples have you witnessed or read about lately?
Twitter Accountability and Longevity: What's the Future of Twittering Versus Fact-Checked Journalism?
Twitter doesn't claim to compete with The New York Times or The Washington Post, but it can have similar influence on - can even be a maker or breaker of - an organization's or an individual's reputation. But, could "Tweets" soon be cast aside as rumor and unfounded hype? Or will tweets gain power and influence?
Tony La Russa seems to think that either way, tweets shouldn't be ignored. The St. Louis Cardinals manager filed suit in San Francisco, CA Superior Court claiming that Twitter allowed a fake account to be set up under La Russa's name with demeaning and derogatory updates about current and former players - that has caused irreparable damage to his reputation. Should Twitter and/or the person who opened the fake account be liable?
It seems that many people feel that tough-talk-twittering amounts to merely off-the-cuff, inconsequential speech as opposed to measured and leveraged assaults that can cause real damage. So, tweeters should feel free to say anything they want.
Apparently, you can even feel free to criticize the President. Sen. Chuck Grassley posted a scathing tweet about President Obama's demand for action on healthcare reform: "Pres Obama you got nerve while u sightseeing in Paris to tell us 'time to deliver' on health care. We still on skedul/even workinWKEND."
But, we're talking about just 140 characters max, so any damage would be limited, right? Wrong. As Time Magazine pointed out, Twitter is being used as a "pointing device," sharing links to articles and videos and other longer-form pieces. This all extends the interest and influence. In fact, let me point you to that interesting Time article: http://tinyurl.com/pr9qg5
Are there no consequences to tweeting? If there are none, should there be? Also, will tweeting last and even continue to expand? What is your opinion?
If GM could convince drivers to buy cars as well as they communicated this week, the auto maker would come out of bankruptcy quickly.
From CEO Fritz Henderson, to UAW President Ron Gettelfinger, to other executives, to the rank and file, as awful as the bankruptcy filing was this week, GM spokespersons were consistent and united in their statements about a new GM. In full page ads, Henderson asks the public to follow the company http://www.gmreinvention.com/ GM sent letters to customers assuring them about quality and warrantees.
As David Leonhardt pointed out in the NY Times many of these promises of GM rebound have been made before. One of the questions is whether the public believes the company and will actually come back and buy, OR whether the younger generation of buyers - who have yet to be enamored with GM and who don't read the main stream media as much and see the ads - will put the GM vehicles on their desired purchase list.
Yes, the Harbor and JD Power reports do show that initial and long term quality has improved at GM yet, while the factual and statistical gaps between GM and the competition have shrunk, the perception gap has not changed very much.
What do you think? Do you think that GM can close the perception gap so that car buyers will consider Chevy, Cadillac, Buick and GMC in the same way that they think of other cars and trucks? Car buying is both a financial and emotional purchase. Can the turnaround hit us in the hearts and imagination, not just in the pocketbook?