Pardon Me, Your Relationships Are Showing

Hush girlI have talked a lot about how PR has historically been more about MEDIA Relations than PUBLIC Relations.  I’ve noted that Social Media enables the PR industry to fulfill its original mission of facilitating relationships between brands and people.

But I left something out.

The RELATIONSHIPS being formed between the BRAND and the PEOPLE are happening out in the open.  The process of relationship-building is being judged by a quiet majority — of Google users.

Brands form relationships with Kelly Keyboard and Joe Mouseclick because Kelly and Joe are active on the social networks.  But how the brand interacts with Kelly and Joe — via blog posts, tweets, the commentstream — is subsequently being found and evaluated by thousands of people who stumble upon these interactions via a simple Google search.

The responsiveness and diplomacy that a brand demonstrates TODAY are going to be judged TOMORROW.

Want an example?  Spirit Airlines still gets dinged on the first page of Google results.  The first page on Google used to contain a fascinating & infamous post by blogger Alex Rudloff titled, “Do Not Fly Spirit Airlines,” but in the subsequent years it’s dropped to Page 3 of Google. Still, Yelp* gets some pretty good SEO, and on the first page of a Google search result on Spirit Airlines you can quickly see scathing reviews about the budget flyer.

Despite the fact that Yelp allows business owners to publicly respond to criticisms, there is no response from Spirit.

So you see a cheap fare for a dream-trip offered by Spirit Airlines.  You do a Google search to find their website.  You see the “Don’t fly this horrible airline!” reviews on Yelp.  You note the silence from Spirit officials.

Do you still buy the ticket?

*Disclosure: Yelp is a former client of SHIFT Communications.

Posted on: September 1, 2009 at 1:47 pm By Todd Defren
46 Responses to “Pardon Me, Your Relationships Are Showing”


  • Very interesting article, I think building relationships out in the open is a great way to promote transparency of a business. Overall you want to build a positive relationship with your clients, doing that in the open is a great way to show that you are active with and care about your clients.

  • yinka olaito says:

    PR experts and communicators need to continually guard,guide business top management in building relationship that can enhance bottomline performance , not only for today but for tomorrow

  • I am not sure what I would do if I came upon a Yelp review and didn’t hear a response back from the guilty party. I am not as active as I should be on Yelp.

    I am thinking I would read what Spirit had to offer and then if I saw something bad… I might tweet and ask a question to get a better answer. Depending on what kind of flight I was going on and the customer service on the plane? Not really sure.

  • Murray says:

    So true, so many marketers still think their job is about push communications and are terrible at engaging in the conversations that are happening about them while they sleep in their jobs.

  • Neil Ferree says:

    Every so often, I search my NAME and the 1/2 dozen web properties in my portfolio just to see how Google, Yahoo and Bing are “packaging” my stuff and so far so good, but the search bots seem to be slowing down lately?

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