Is One Positive Day tomorrow? Rats!

Blogs and other user-generated content (UGC), coupled with search engines, have made negative news spread like online viruses. This news can be extremely harmful to a brand. Often the damage is unwarranted.

A good example is the fall-out two weeks ago over the punishing flight delays that jetBlue subjected many of its customers to. Kevin Hillstrom of The Mine That Data Blog observed that in the week following these delays, more than 7,500 articles had been written about them in blogs and other UGC. The number is sobering.

It’s especially concerning when you consider that no company is perfect, and jetBlue is better than most. From the top down, they are organized around the customer experience. Their blunder shows that with even the best of companies, stuff happens.

In his open letter to the marketing blogging community, Kevin asks writers Rats in the NYC KFC-Taco Bellto think twice next time before braying about whatever company publicly stumbles. Outrage over poor customer service is fine, but restraint is also in order. Most reasonable people would agree that jetBlue does not deserve 7,500 voices screaming for blood. People were inconvenienced, not poisoned.

On the other hand, poisoning would probably merit outrage from a blogger, right? Or how about the threat of poisoning, from rats in a restaurant, as shown in the photo above?

Here’s why this is an important distinction. I promised Kevin on his blog that I would participate in his One Positive Day pledge. In this pledge, I as a blogger would not “go negative,” so to speak, just because the opportunity presents itself. In this pledge, I will not succumb to the temptation of talking about poor customer service merely as a way to elicit strong reactions from readers — strong reactions that would presumably garner stronger readership.

Kevin proposes that One Positive Day, his moratorium on UGC negativity, would be enforced on the first day of every month. Starting tomorrow, March 1. So I only have a few precious hours to post this photo, which was taken from video footage of a Greenwich Village KFC-Taco Bell — the restaurant that made the news, and YouTube, for being an after-hours haven to dozens of cavorting rats. Yuck.

Repeat after me. Yuck. Okay, enough of that. Tomorrow is a new day. A much more positive day. I promise, Kevin.

2 thoughts on “Is One Positive Day tomorrow? Rats!”

  1. That’s a pretty disgusting thing to imagine when you think about what could be in their steak taquitos. Pretty disgusting. Disgusting enough for them to get rid of the rats? Maybe not.

    Moving on…

    “User-generated content (UGC), coupled with search engines, have made negative news spread like online viruses. This news can be extremely harmful to a brand. Often the damage is unwarranted.”

    Truer words never spoken Jeff; as you talk about negative UGC a member of Toyota’s target demographic laced into Toyota for promoting their new want2bsquare campaign.

    This sounds a lot like the “all I want for Christmas is a PSP” campaign Sony ran over the holidays. While the backlash for Toyota wasn’t as swift as Sony it still says a lot about customer intelligence and their ability to smell false pretenses, whether online or off.

    Would it make more sense to continue with the direct approach they’ve been using?

    While Toyota’s guerrilla marketing seemed trite, at the same time I think that the blogger went a little overboard. After all, things could be much worse; you could have mice in your steak taquitos.

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