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Just another example of how not to treat a customer in today's connected world, or put your brand in peril. Jackie & Ben do a wonderful job outlining the series of events that lead up to a horrible public relations nightmare for CompUSA.


Summary: Guy buys digital camera, gets box home, nothing in box. Blogs about it, gets note from idiot CompUSA executive saying "he should have checked the box, all sales are final." Story goes viral, through blogs, all the way up to Fox News. You can guess the rest.
We all know who's to blame in this story. It wasn't the fault of the marketing team, that's for sure. It wasn't even the fault of the PR team.
However, blame aside, is it the responsibility of the marketing team to turn this lemon of a PR move into lemonade? Or is it the PR team's job?
Normally most would say that the PR department should be in charge of this. And perhaps they should (20 years ago). But I argue that a good marketing team in today's marketplace should be able to take a disaster and turn it into a win through creative marketing. PR should not be involved anymore.
Why? Because as Jackie and Ben allude to, you cannot stop the conversation from happening, you can only embrace it and work with it. PR only seems to want to bury it.
Instead, I say a good marketing team should embrace the story. How about a marketing campaign of a contest based around finding some cash in a random box? For example...
"Whoops, we messed up! You may have heard by now, we accidentally left a computer out of one of our boxes. To make up for it, we've decided to put $10,000 in one computer box for some lucky person to find with the purchase of any CompUSA purchased computer. Anyone can win, just buy a computer from CompUSA in the next 30-days and look for your cash!"
Some would call this unnecessarily calling out the problem, but I would argue that the problem is already out there, it just hasn't been read by everyone yet.
In today's connected world, and with today's savvy customer and rabid competitors, getting any attention is better than getting none. Most likely PR would apologize (as they did) and try to kill the conversation.
But in reality, is that the best move?
What do you think? Can PR effectively solve problems anymore? Or is it marketing's turn to carry the load?

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