Posted by: beckbamberger | February 17, 2010

PR and Customer Service

Who is Kevin Smith? To many fans, he’s the director of popular movies such as Clerks and Chasing Amy. To Southwest Airlines, he was just another passenger this past Saturday that should have purchased two seat tickets because of his weight.

Already seated in his flight, Smith was asked to leave because he was deemed too overweight to sit in one seat. Apparently, Smith didn’t take the situation well; and now, Southwest has a real public relations problem on their plate.

After posting dozens of comments about this situation to his 1.5 million Twitter followers, CNET News commented on how public relations has developed in this new digital age.

This may be the best example we’ve seen yet of how Twitter and other forms of new-media mass communication are shaping that old industry known as public relations. Nobody walks around with a Twitter follower count or blog URL painted on his or her forehead, and many extremely popular bloggers still live in relative physical anonymity, which means that the customer relations business is like a game of Minesweeper–you can never be sure what might blow up in your face.

PR and customer service are two different divisions of a company. But this incident shows how, in the Digital Age, the two are increasingly overlapping. With Twitter, many companies are conducting customer relations in the public eye, and a company’s response to a high-profile disgruntled customer may require dispatching the PR team. Good communication between the two is obviously key.

Read the full article from CNET News here.

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