Viewers can smell a rat. They know the stock photos on your site aren’t your employees, and they can tell if you have ulterior motives behind your P.R. messages.
I just watched a user-created video that’s gone viral on Youtube. It’s a video filmed by a passenger on a flight that’s been grounded for hours by a report of lightning. He storms up to the cockpit and berates the pilots for a while- demanding to be let off the plane and claiming that he’s even called his congressman to issue a complaint. From what I can gather so far, most of the media outlets have covered this as your rank and file “David and Goliath” angry-consumer video, but the public seems to differ. Usually these kind of videos incite public outcries- but this one is going in reverse.
If you follow the video over to Youtube, it’s got 12 pages of comments- and nearly every one I read criticized the guy who filmed it and defended United Airlines. In fact people absolutely hate him. They call him idiot, self-important, loser, moron… it gets bad. Most people applaud the pilots for remaining calm.
1. The guy filming it is interpreted as a jerk. Pretty much everyone has encountered being stuck on a plane. Pretty much everyone hates bad customer service with a fiery, unbridled passion. You really have to come off as pure evil in order for people to side against you in this situation, and according to the average viewer he did.
2. The man is an employee of the company who made the camera. According to some Youtube commenters he’s the President, though he’s listed as “an employee” on the video. Either way, there was a chance this would cost credibility and it did. In my opinion their attempt of demoting him to “employee” caused that backlash.
Now, I am of the opinion that in his situation any PR is good PR. His company just sells a camera. The product isn’t on trial, his attitude is. All the media attention he’s gotten has probably been very beneficial.
But what if his company depended on street cred the way a youth oriented clothing line does? Or what if they depended on people trusting their transparentness like a news company?
Viral marketing can be extremely helpful in getting links to your site, but if most of the links are coming from people who hate you, do you want them? A lot of people are using this video as an example of a win for citizen journalism and a call to watch your customer service. Not me.
Sure, companies should be aware that in the Youtube era people will film and broadcast their customer service errors, but videographers should also keep in mind that while you’re pointing the camera at your subject, people on Youtube are pointing their comments at you.
Hat tip to Andy Sernovitz