Is the Customer Always Right?
You are a junior partner at a Bay Area public relations firm and have been asked to assist in publicizing an event for one of the firm’s top clients. The client, a large-scale software company, is sponsoring a talent competition where local men and women compete for the chance to win a fourteen-day cruise for two. The company hopes the event will be a huge success so that the media attention will give wide mention to its name.
After nearly five months of preparation, you have the event planned to perfection. You have secured celebrity judges, contacted all the local news organizations and can already envision the press release you will write and the broadcast coverage it will gain after the competition. It is going to be great publicity for the software company.
As the talent competition finishes, you are behind stage tallying the votes to determine the winner when the head of the software company, Mr. Johnson, frantically approaches you. It was a close competition and two contestants – one “average Joe” and one up-and-coming actor – were the final two left. When the votes were tallied, the actor won, but Mr. Johnson isn’t pleased – he wanted the “average Joe” to win because he thinks that it would make for a better news story and hence, more publicity for his company. Mr. Johnson asks you to take “creative liberties” in determining the winner. The fine print in the rules say the final decision is ultimately up to the company and not the judging panel and he makes it clear who the winner should be.
Bay Area Public Relations Firm
Win a fourteen-day cruise for two sponsored by Johnson Software!
Five months ago Mr. Johnson, one of our firm’s top clients, approached our firm to help organize and publicize a talent competition.
Local men and women would compete for the chance to win a fourteen-day cruise for two.
- The goals of this event are to showcase local talent, reach large target audiences, and bring media attention to the Johnson Software Company
- Successfully secured celebrity judges.
- We contacted all the local news organizations.
- Prepared a press release.
- A social media campaign was successfully launched.
- 10 local participants were chosen and all have been well received.
- Reviews have been high.
- 2 Networks have picked up the show.
- Our twitter hashtag #JStalent has been ranked in the top 15 hashtags being used this week leading up the finale.
- We have received votes from all 50 states and 20 countries with a high concentration of voters in the Bay Area
- Name recognition and sales are up for the Johnson Software company
So far we have highly achieved our goals. We have used local talent, we have reached a larger audience than we expected, and the Software Company is being benefited.
Our final contestants are David and Dean (Ross don’t freak out about the picture of Dean).
Dean (Singer and Actor)
- Moved to the Bay Area two years ago.
- South African-Australian singer-songwriter and actor.
- Very popular with international and east coast voters
David (Folk Singer)
- Local “average-joe”
- Graduate of Bay High School.
- Very popular in the Bay Area.
- The winner is Dean!
- However, as we were tallying up the results Mr. Johnson approaches us.
- It was a close competition between the “average joe” and the up-and-coming actor.
- Johnson wants David to win because he believes it would make for a better news story and thus more publicity for his company.
- Within the fine print of the rules it does give him the legal right to change the vote.
Risks to Changing the Vote
- Dean or Dean supporters could create a negative social media stir.
- There is a risk of public backlash and scandal.
- We could lose credibility with our customers and the public.
- Voters want their vote to be heard (be a part of it).
- Lose potential of doing similar events in the future due to poor reviews.
- People won’t want to participate and engage if they feel like their vote wasn’t listened to.
Benefits to Keeping the Vote
- We don’t risk losing credibility.
- We will have the opportunity of being part of the rising star’s journey (people will reflect back to his roots and thus to the company that helped start him.
- It will show a willingness to listen to your customers.
Finding the Balance
- I suggest that we keep the vote.
- BUT, do something special for David as well as a special surprise from the CEO, Mr. Johnson.
- “Johnson Software CEO surprises Runner Up by…..”
- We would receive the benefits of being part of the rising star’t career, keeping credibility, and also recieveing positive media coverage.
Non Idol-Winner Successes
- Jennifer Hudson, 7th place, Season 3 (2004)
- In Dreamgirls (2006), Hudson won a supporting-actress Oscar for her performance of And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going.
- Staring in a Broadway revival of The Color Purple
- Won a 2008 Grammy for Best R&B Album
- Chris Daughtry, 4th place, Season 5 (2006)
- He went on to big success with his own rock band, Daughtry.
- Its debut album sold more than 5 million copies.
- Daughtry is No. 3 in record sales among Idol alums, trailing only winners Carrie Underwood and Kelly Clarkson.
- Clay Aiken, Runner-up, Season 2 (2003)
- Sold more copies of his first post-Idol single than the Idol champion
- Appeared on TV shows (Drop Dead Diva, 30 Rock) and Broadway (Spamalot).
- In 2014, he won the Democratic primary for a congressional seat in his native North Carolina before losing the general election.
- Katharine McPhee, Runner-up, Season 5 (2006)
- Released post-Idol albums but has gained a higher profile as an actress, with major roles on NBC’s Smash and currently, CBS’ Scorpion.
- Kellie Pickler, 6th place, Season 5 (2006)
- Went on to country music success.
- Won ABC’s Dancing With the Stars, in 2013,with partner Derek Hough.
- She got her own reality series, CMT’s I Love Kellie Pickler.
- Adam Lambert, Runner-up, Season 8 (2009)
- Ranking high on the list of finalists’ album sales.
- Touring with members of Queen.
- He appeared in Fox’s Glee.
- Plays Eddie in the network’s The Rocky Horror Picture Show revival.
- And our personal favorite
- David Archuleta, Runner Up, Season 7 (2008)
- As of February 2012, Archuleta has sold 1,108,000 albums and 3,327,000 tracks in the United States.
- Won 6 Teen Choice Awards.
- Served a LDS mission in Chile.
So as you can see David still will have great opportunity for future success, and by helping him rise in his career even after his disappointing lose you can even gain better credibility and recognition.
So in conclusion I believe our best and safest Public Relations plan is to move forward with the vote as counted while showing particular interest in David. Doing so would protect our credibility, it would promote positive media coverage, continuing spotlight focus on the starts we helped create, and we would not need to stress about a potential scandal.
***Names are fictional