211. Buzz Clearly taken on a Perfect Trip
I woke up at 4 am to check how the debate in the Indian Parliament was progressing on the FDI in Retail. Instead of tweets on FDI there was a trickle of tweets on a controversial decision taken by a travel portal Cleartrip on sacking their PR firm – Buzz PR based on a customer complaint. The interesting part was that the complaint made via a tweet was about one firm but the firm sacked was another which was later clarified that the two were sister firms.
Well, the organisations in question have the right to contract with each other and separate from each other. What was disturbing is the way the separation was handled and a mockery made of the entire situation which came across as personal scores to settle more than anything else. I have nothing to do with any of the parties concerned and my only interest in the case is because I work with a PR firm and this is a disturbing precedent for any consulting business.
There have already been three blogs written by Deepika, Karthik and Tinu and more must be in the works. I am just highlighting what I felt was not becoming of a company like Cleartrip whom I have done business with in the past and I think there needs to be a stringent code of conduct for companies which want to call themselves PR firms and practice the art and science of Public Relations.The fact that an issue like spamming has been blown out of proportion is an altogether different topic.
What Cleartrip could have done better –
Sack the PR firm for not adhering to principles but handled it with kidgloves as there are other partners and customers who will build negative and positive perceptions. Sadly this was a case of washing filthy linen in public
Blog about it with both versions of the story or announce parting of ways without being nasty. Transparency does not mean putting them down in the way it was done.
Everything goes around in circles and there are vicious ones doing the rounds. Seeting a culture of nasty is avoidable.
Lessons for consulting companies –
(this applies to all companies in the business of consulting whether PR or other)
- To get increasingly professional or face a worse fate than what the firm in question faced
- To organise data bases and staff in a more coherent manner
- To invest on training all employees lest such gaffes happen
- To not take clients for granted
- To have an active social media presence and share your point of view when such incidents occur and
- To not be taken for a ride – in this case it was a clearly a perfect trip…
In the end Cleartrip achieved a lot of publicity, that which its erstwhile PR firm could not achieve for it. Has set the cat among the pigeons and created a new point of discussion. There has more to this than meets the eye.
Lastly, PR firms are only as good as the client it serves, the people it hires and the bosses who lead.PR firms are not vendors and there are no agencies in PR – only firms or consultancies. If PR firms do not unite every dog will have his day.