OK, I know you already saw the video. In case you live under a rock, you can view it on YouTube.
The video describes Dave Carroll’s experience with United Airlines, which smashed the end of his guitar, and provided sub-par customer service at the time of their error, and for months after.
I wrote have written about bad customer service several times (here and here) but didn’t name any companies. Perhaps I should have made a video. Somehow I don’t think a video of Granny at her computer spitting out discontent would go over like this video has.
I’ve watched the video a few times, read Mr. Carroll’s website, became his fan of Facebook, and watched the new coverage turn into a tsunami. The video is professional quality, cute, straightforward and tells a tale that resonates with the traveling public. The song is too long to be a commercial success, at 4:37, but that doesn’t seem to have caused Mr. Carroll any troubles.
I first saw a link to the video on an internet mailing list a couple of days ago, and ignored it. That is pretty much what would happen if you called your local newspaper, or TV or radio station to tell them that an airline had lost your luggage, or broke your guitar. They would express no interest. That, of course, is why United Airlines and every other big company in the world gets away with sub-par customer service.
The most instructive thing about the publicity is that it STARTED with the internet. A video on YouTube, a modest story told on a musician’s website. What happened? Facebook and Twitter, and perhaps some new media I don’t know about spread the word faster than any other news outlet. The video was posted July 6, and by today Mr. Carroll is on TV, radio, and in every newspaper.
What’s my point, you ask? Just in case previous episodes, like the Welch singer (do you remember her name?), and the Iranian protest stories did not deliver the message, I will. The world has changed. Traditional media are playing catch-up. TV, radio and newspapers realized there was a story when 300,000+ YouTube views and who knows how many tweets, blog posts, Facebook messages and comments told them there was news. The internet provides instant information, posted whenever and where ever people can post. It arrives on cell phone, portable computers and other internet enabled devices. There is pretty much no time lag, and by the time the traditional media outlets could report this, it was essentially old news.
The people making the news are reporting it. Dave Carroll happens to have resources, imagination and ingenuity beyond that of the average airline traveler. But the message is clear. There are as many reporters as there are people with an internet connection.