Learning the hard way: Bloggers court case.
Will it work or will it blow up in their faces?
This post refers to a blog written by Donn Edwards who blogs at “Insights and Rants”
Donn has been sued by a Timeshare company “The Quality Vacation Club” (QVC) for claiming that he had been misled by the company into attending a prize giving ceremony for a car when in effect it was merely a sales presentation for QVC.
His blog goes on to document some comical errors which appear to have been made by QVC and their legal team.
I and many others have had very similar experiences to what Donn Edwards reports except that I have no idea what timeshare set up is involved as I am immediately suspicious of this tactic, and although the telesales person denies that it is in fact “a timeshare presentation”, when they appear to be able to reschedule the “prize giving” event at will it just appears to be too good to be true and I have not attended.
The events bring some interesting dynamics into play.
Firstly Donn Edwards is a blogger, his instinct is to share his daily experiences in his blog in the same way a different generation may have phoned a friend. Bloggers blog – simple.
Secondly the existence of networks in the online world can quickly distribute information.
We need to remember the key drivers in the online world:
Donn wrote about the court case in his blog on Sunday, November 30, after the report featured here appeared in the Sunday Independent. He even posted the court documents on his blog.
By the time this article was written a large number of people have read and left comments on his blog. Bloggers have also started blogging about the issue.
The event has now also become a talking point in the fastest growing social network in the world Twitter. It has been picked up by the John Robbie Show on Radio 702, Johannesburg’s talk radio station where a lot of debate ensued and it now appears that the Department of Trade and Industries (DTI) is getting involved.
It’s a different situation but it reminds me of the Kryptonite Lock PR fiasco which has become a case study in PR textbooks and frequently quoted on the Internet. Briefly the story is that someone claimed that you could open a Kryptonite lock with the refill for a bic pen. This was denied by the company but very soon afterwards video demonstrating how easy it was to do so, was circulating the Internet. The action of the company in trying to whitewash the truth was exposed with a considerable negative impact on their brand.
This is the power of social media and the concept of user generated content.
Honesty is key, PR spin and deliberate falsehood on the part of the blogger or the company will be exposed by the crowd. If however there is truth in the report then that truth is likely to be collaborated by others as it was in the Kryptonite case.
In this case Donn Edwards blog post has been collaborated or shared with many thousands of people, clearly the public, many victims of this same tactic sympathise with him, associating the story with the QVC brand. Many are up in arms against the bully tactics that appear to be being used.
Paradoxically not because of Donn’s blog but because of the actions of QVC themselves, QVC are bringing their company, its policies and tactics into the spotlight. The QVC brand is under examination by thousands. Maybe they just never calculated the effect of taking on a blogger in an always on always connected world.
The lesson for business is that the power has shifted away from the company, the brand owner and the traditional authority. Its now in the hands of the customer, strong arm tactics won’t work. I am afraid that the lid has been removed and there is no replacing it.
What will work is delivering value and dealing with customers with Trust, Transparency and Talking. How many companies and PR practitioners out there get this?
In: Uncategorized · Tagged with: Donn Edwards, Kryptonite, Quality Vacation Club, QVC, social media, Sue Blogger, Time Share, Twitter