Friday, February 3, 2012

Take That, SGK! A New Kind of Public Relations Has Emerged

Within 72 hours from learning the Susan G. Komen organization was pulling their funding from Planned Parenthood, they were pinned to the mat, screaming “uncle.”  The power of the social media, with all its detractors, once again said “over our dead bodies” to the rich and powerful.

Something similar happened back in November 2011 when the Bank of America suffered its own smackdown after Wells Fargo, J.P. Morgan Chase and finally, my bank, SunTrust, backed away from the greed pool and refused to follow suit by charging their customers a $5 fee for using their debit cards. '

“We have listened to our customers very closely over the last few weeks and recognize their concern with our proposed debit usage fee,” David Darnell, co-chief operating officer at Bank of America, said in a statement. “As a result, we are not currently charging the fee and will not be moving forward with any additional plans to do so.”


The people of the world have had it with sitting silently by while the behemoths that spend hours on end coming up with ways of filching every last coin from their pockets are as mad as hell and they are not going to take it anymore!

As was pointed out today in a Salon article by Mary Elizabeth Williams, the street savvy Planned Parenthood organization is used to being attacked and vilified, and they know exactly how to harness the power of the social media.  While they used ammunition from their online supporters to bolster their cause, SKG founding chair Nancy G. Brinker was appearing on news interviews looking as if she had been tazed.

When I read earlier today that Brinker and company had indeed caved to the mounting pressure, I realized we have entered a new era of business-customer relations.  No longer do we have to wait until the shareholder’s meeting to register our complaints.  Phone calls and letter writing takes too darned long to reach the eyes and ears of the powers that be and they are too easily ignored.  But the modern-day grapevine made up of Twitter, Facebook and organizational message boards heat up in no time flat. Once one person posts the news, Katy bar the door!

There are a boatload of problems associated with the explosion of technology and the social media – identity theft, cyber bullying, lack of privacy, and opportunities for lawsuits – but this new ability on the part of consumers and constituents to make their ‘druthers known en masse and lightening fast is one of the best outcomes I could have ever imagined. 

Kudos to Jack Dorsey, the founder of Twitter, and Mark Zuckerberg, who gave us the ubiquitous Facebook, for having visions that extend far further than either of you probably could have envisioned.  Corporate public and investor relations will never be the same.

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