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PR/Customer Service Mash-Up

Weighing on Steve Baker’s blog post on whether bloggers or media relations should be handling customer service in the wake of Jeff Jarvis’s rift with Dell, Mike Manual says a mash-up is in order, and I agree.

As I posted on Mike’s blog, Media Guerilla, until only recently, PR (and marketing for that matter too) was primarily about getting the message out. Now, all of the sudden, those messages are being challenged, and we have to defend our them outside of the media relations sphere.

Up to now, customer service has been the department charged with having those conversations. And whatever the perceived short comings may be, it seems as though some hybrid business function that involves both PR departments — a PR/customer service mash-up — makes a whole lot of sense.

Greg Burton, a customer service pro challenges this position quite well, saying:

“Involving pr or marcom or media relations assumes that the important problem is the company’s. The important problem is the customer’s, and until that focus is shifted and the right people (those who can solve the problem) are involved, this kind of situation will be more common.”

When it comes to media relations, he has a point. But effective PR is not just about media relations. It is about communicating the right information, and in doing so, influencing opinions and protecting reputations. And in this sense, bridging the two departments, or at least instituting a mechanism by which there is regular give and take between them both, certainly seems like something worth reaching for.
The devil is in the details.

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