Like many companies Porter Novelli runs a graduate programme, the latest bunch of our brightest ad best started last week and as part of their induction they had to listen to me bang on for an hour about what the WW digital team does and why digital will be an important part of their PR futures.
As part of my banging on, during which they all sat very politely and took copious notes, I told them all about the joys of using the interwebs to hear what people are saying about brands and how some brands, such as Spinvox (a PN client) and Dell actively listen on platforms like Twitter and respond to both praise and criticism.
One of them then threw me with an interesting question which I hadn’t previously considered, which was:
“has anyone ever complained or been upset that a comment or post they have made has been picked up by the brand in question?”
I racked my brains briefly and came up with just one example from July this year. The NY times ran a piece about how a blogger, Brandon Dilbeck, had written a post complaining about Comcast posting ad’s on the on-screen interactive guide.
Shortly afterward, he received an e-mail message from Comcast, thanking him for the feedback and adding that it was working on a new interactive guide that might “illuminate the issues that you are currently experiencing.”
Mr. Dilbeck found it all a bit creepy. “The rest of his e-mail may as well have read, ‘Big Brother is watching you,’ ” he said.
Gripping online? Comcast hears and talks back, New York Times
The article is actually quite complimentary about how Comcast monitors online and responds to people having issues, and “Big company solves blogger’s problem after online whinge” doesn’t make quite such a snappy headline or indeed a news story at all.
Personally I think if a brand responded to my occasional gripe I’d be delighted, but the question reminded me that I’m not everyone and some ppl might find it very creepy. Although perhaps one day we’ll come to expect brands to respond to our cries into the ether as we hope that they’d currently respond to a direct call to customer services.