The Power of PR in the Social Media Environment

In today’s economy, maintaining a company’s good reputation is essential.

Over the past week, I’ve watched the power of PR and social media combine to achieve results that a single person found impossible. The issue was a custom made saddle for a professional rider. The rider had ordered the saddle from a “high end” French saddle maker at a cost of $4K.

Unfortunately for her, when said saddle was delivered, it didn’t fit her horse, despite the fact that the manufacturer’s rep had measured the horse. You’d think that in the interest of customer satisfaction, the manufacturer would take the saddle back and make it work. Well, they did take it back, but when it was returned to the customer it still didn’t fit. Two years later, the company had neither fixed the saddle or given the customer a refund.

In an act of frustration, the rider posted the story on a popular equestrian bulletin board. Watching the post expand was an interesting experience. Some readers expressed their outrage at how the rider had been treated by the custom saddle manufacturer; some shared their own customer service nightmares with the same company; and many people talked about the positive experiences they’d had with competitive companies.

After 37,868 views the company finally offered the rider a settlement. But at what cost? At least 10 writers said flat out that they would now look at other manufacturers, losing the company at least $40K in sales . . . and the long-term effect of this negative publicity is incalculable.

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