So, it appears that Seth, AT&T’s blogger guy, works for its PR agency Fleishman Hillard. A question was posed on Twitter by Todd Defren about whether AT&T should have disclosed that Seth works for FH.
From a consumer’s point of view, that’s not really what’s important. For all intents and purposes Seth works for AT&T. By putting him out there as the mouth piece of AT&T, he is AT&T, so to speak. Sure, he’s a ‘blogger’ but do we expect anything impartial from he if he works for AT&T or its PR agency? I think Todd’s question in some ways has more to do with the flaws (and insecurities) of the PR industry more than what matters to customers.
The more important point to me is that AT&T is still missing the real opportunity. All they’ve done is more of the same, just a different wrapper. A different channel for the same old message and business practices.
Everyone of us knows when we’ve come across the real thing and we know when we’ve encountered bullshit. We know when the people in our social circles aren’t real. We know when advertising is bullshit. We know when PR people are doing their thing. We know. This ain’t real.
In leveraging the power of the social web the only thing matters is that AT&T is REAL about their business.
Simply put: do the right thing by your customers.
Create a great product. Sell it for what it is. Back it up and have customer service policies that put the customer first.
I’m writing this on a JetBlue flight where the TVs aren’t working. We’re all getting $15 coupons after the flight. JetBlue doesn’t have to do this. They could simply have an asterix in their advertising that says, “no guarantee of TV service.,” or nothing at all. AT&T, how about something back for all those dropped calls? Acknowledgement? A sorry? A cookie?
Using the social web successfully has to start with the business and the sooner people realize that it’s not just a marketing thing [no, boys, “it’s marketing, you can say whatever you want,” does not work!], the more successful they’ll be.
My problem with Seth (not him the individual but what he stands for) is two fold:
1. He’s nothing more than the same old wrapper of bullshit marketing. You see that ahead of you AT&T? It’s a giant wall of competitors and alternatives fueled by a new world competition backed by the social web.
2. The message is way off–see my earlier post. As an aside, it just hit me that maybe AT&T is being real with the message. Maybe they’re just whiny assholes, in which case, good luck my blue and orange friend. Who can benefit from this? Check this post out.
All is not lost though. Can they turn things around? Not if they stay on this path.
Look in the mirror, AT&T. Do you like what you see? Would you want to be treated that way? AT&T employees, are you proud of your work? Your company? Are you doing everything you can to build long and lasting relationships with your customers that can withstand the fiercest of competition? Say, when Verizon starts offering the iPhone?
Think about that and I’m pretty sure your next Seth video will be very different. Your next customer service call will be very different. Your next retail experience will be very different. Your next TV commercial will be very different. Your Facebook wall will start to feel very different.