The Public Relations Challenge

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The till-queue hold up during your lunch break, the jeans that ripped the first time you wore them and that bus that just never shows up.

Just a few of the things that really hack us off.

In the past, us Brits were renowned for our ‘Keep Calm and Carry on’ attitude, to sit back and never moan. But those days are gone.  We’re sat bang in the middle of  the digital age and we’ve become a generation of complainers.

I’d like to point out that there’s nothing wrong with complaining, inflation means we’re paying more for things (Freddo’s of the world, I’m looking at you) and that means we’ve come to expect more. But just how are we complaining? Do we march straight back to Sainsbury’s and demand a refund for our dodgy mange-tout? Do we heck. 

We take to social networks and broadcast our opinions to friends and strangers alike and then we await a reply (although we expect it ASAP), it’s all quite diva-esque really.

The Twitter-sphere has become filled with complaints and as such, companies have had to set up customer service accounts to specifically deal with these. Just one complaint online can be seen and re-shared ten-fold, this can have potentially devastating consequences and lead to losses in both reputation and sales. Therefore it’s imperative that comms teams handle these situations effectively.

I mean, a crucial part of Public Relations for companies is creating, building and maintaining relationships with its publics. That’s like lesson 101.

Some companies however, still haven’t got the memo. A bare online presence or unanswered complaint can leave customers feeling frustrated and unappreciated, they won’t be using your services again. A poor response can be even more disastrous.

So what’s my challenge? (You’d have been disappointed if it was just a ploy to draw you in, admit it!)

One of the ways we learn is by watching how others have done things before us (think cave paintings for the 21st century). so I offically invite you all to join me as we find out how companies deal with issues and complaints online. And it’ll be with us – the public. A Public Relations challenge, clever eh?

Over the next 7 days, when I encounter a problem (or potential problem), I’ll be taking to Twitter and tackling the companies in question (there’ll be no malice or spam here though).

And then like always, I’ll be awaiting their reply. It’ll be a test of their communications teams and a test of their customer service ethos.

Do you think they’re ready for the test? 

I’ll see you this time next week when we see just how they got on.

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