Wake up businesses and organizations! Consumers are in control.

komen hack
If you haven’t yet learned from the messes The Susan G. Komen Foundation, Netflix, Bank of America, Verizon and now Burning Man have created for themselves, it’s time to wake up. I’m surprised to see businesses and organizations that have spent so much time building their brands and reputations make such drastic decisions that they know consumers won’t like.

Today a company’s bad decision can ignite an immediate firestorm that can spread across the interwebs as quickly as a tornado can ruin a city. Boards and CEOs in charge of such decisions should consider every possibility for backlash. Hindsight is always 20/20, but with enough of these examples in the past 12 months, I would expect that every organization would thoughtfully gauge the opinions of its target consumer before deciding on a new course that could permanently damage the brand.

burning man shot
Today’s announcement by the Susan G. Komen foundation to reverse its decision was not a surprise. Netflix, Bank of America and Verizon reversed bad decisions on the same timeline. Will it be enough to earn back the trust of the consumer? We’ll see. I know the company has lost mine.

It remains to be seen if Burning Man will be able to come back from its ticket lottery fiasco. My recommendation? Apologize now. Admit you made the wrong decision. Invite the community to share its ideas on how to fix what’s been done. Share what was learned and take action quickly.

I feel lucky to be living in an era where my voice online can have even more power than my vote. I’ll continue using my power as a consumer. I hope you do too.

3 replies
  1. Erik Timmons
    Erik Timmons says:

    Your 2 cents must make you good interest because your thoughts are right.  Its amazing to me that big companies think they can back consumers in a corner.  What’s unfortunate about the power consumers have is that we don’t wield the power enough.   For instance; I’m a HUGE fan of Starbucks, I like their coffee, the experience and I think Howard Schultz is a brilliant man, HOWEVER, it seems ridiculous to me that I can pay and extra $.50 for a shot of coffee in my drink but get no discount if I don’t want whipped cream (yes, I know this is a lame example but an example none the less).  
    Come on people let’s use our power for good, even lame good things.  

    Great thoughts Allison!

    • Anonymous
      Anonymous says:

      Thanks, Erik.  I think it just shows how behind the times many of the organizations are. That’s a great example re: Starbucks and whip cream. Maybe we should start our own campaign.(-:

  2. Therese Lang
    Therese Lang says:

    Melissa Waggoner had an interesting op-ed piece on PRSAY yesterday. One sentence summed up everything. I’m paraphrasing but basically, she said that the Komen case (and lots more I can think of) if the senior-level communication person had been invited to the table when the other execs were discussing the issue of cutting funding, perhaps the bad press would have been avoided or at least minimized. Sounds like they (and B of A, Netflix) didn’t consult their communication people before acting. This comes on the heels of the announcement that Oregon legislators plan to cut public relations/affairs staff at state agencies to save money. We don’t get no respect…

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