The Customer is Always Wrong …

April 30, 2012

by Heather Keroes


That’s the impression I had recently when looking into ordering my contact lenses online.  Usually I order contact lenses directly from my optometrist at Target Optical, but with the hopes of saving a few dollars this time around, I decided to research online options – and there are many.  Surprisingly, most of the online suppliers quoted my contacts at more or less the same rate as Target, with the exception of one company.  However, while I am not fearful of online ordering (I am a frequent online shopper), I always do my homework to see how other consumers have rated their experiences.

I had an easy time finding reviews for the company I researched, and while on average it was ranked favorably, I noticed a common and disturbing thread amongst the negative reviews.  The company was responding publicly to some of its negative comments, not necessarily a bad thing, but in their replies the customer was always in the wrong.  The company even went so far as to claim that one of the reviews was a hoax by another disgruntled customer using a false screen name.

While I daresay there are cases in which a customer may be making an unwarranted or unfair claim, any customer complaint should be addressed in a polite, professional manner, providing next steps for sideline follow-up and resolution.  Through overtly defensive tactics going against the most basic rule of customer service – “the customer is always right” – this company lost my business before it had it.  I guess I’m going back to Target.

Another Take on the Online Commenting System

April 27, 2012

by Kim Taylor

My business partner and agency CEO Roger Pynn recently gave kudos to the Orlando Sentinel’s Mark Russell for how the paper is continuing to evolve their online commenting system.  Like many sites, the Sentinel requires users to register before commenting, which presumably helps prevent those who use anonymity as a shield to fill the pages with often toxic comments.

Gawker Media, the parent to hugely popular sites like Gawker, Jezebel, Lifehacker, has taken a different approach entirely … giving the power to the people … whether they reveal their identity or not.

Commenters who prefer to identify themselves can use the site’s “Burner” tool, which lets users enter a pseudonym to begin commenting.  The pseudonym is then linked to your device along with a key that’s generated randomly (in case you want to comment from different devices).  Burner doesn’t require a name, email address or password.

Additionally, Gawker’s letting users moderate users, essentially giving the power to the first person to comment on a particular story.

It certainly does “fly in the face of conventional media wisdom” as said by Nick Denton, founder of Gawker Media.  His reasoning:

“We’ll accept some disorder if that’s the price of freedom in one’s personal life, in politics and the press.”

What do you think?  Which approach do you prefer?

The Danger of “Contributing Writers”

April 26, 2012

by Kerry Martin 

Everyone has an opinion.  And since the advent of social media, those opinions have been easier and easier to broadcast throughout the world (like on this blog, for instance).

For the print and online news media, those opinions have started to mix with traditional, fact-based journalism.  Content from the opinion pages has leaked into other sections, and writers who usually covered standard beats can now express their views as “columnists.”  As this practice has become the norm, most readers have adjusted, learning the writing style and standpoints of their favorite reporters-turned-personalities.

But for outlets hosting content from subject matter experts or just other voices, readers oftentimes can’t distinguish the difference between real on-staff reporters and these so-called “contributing writers.”  The danger therein is twofold:  these bloggers don’t always have the same fact-checking editors that other trained journalists have, and their opinion is given more credibility behind the banner of esteemed news publications.

Take for example Steven Salzberg, a professor of medicine and biostatistics in the Institute of Genetic Medicine at Johns Hopkins University who writes for  He wrote a post earlier this week criticizing the University of Florida (UF) for eliminating its computer science department due to budget cuts while also commenting on the budget increase for its athletic program.  Salzberg had to make two corrections to the article about incorrect numbers quoted in the article and his insinuation that the University Athletic Association (which maintains a separate budget from the academic budget) could use its budget surplus to cover the cost of the program.  The most flagrant of errors in the article, however, was the fact that nowhere had he written that the changes to the computer science department were proposed … planned … not enacted.

More than 350,000 views later, the damage had been done.  Salzberg’s article was referenced in dozens of other posts locally and nationally (by other bloggers and actual journalists alike) further adding to the credibility of his false presumptions.

The University Relations team at the University of Florida quickly responded to the article with a response posted on the College of Engineering’s website about his incorrect claims, as well, UF President Bernie Machen addressed the situation and how the university is continuing to evaluate proposals for mitigating the budget.

Salzberg even wrote a follow-up piece about it—the view count is already up to a whopping 8,500.  And who said the corrections section doesn’t work?

(It should be noted that as one of the three members of the Florida High Tech Corridor Council, the University of Florida is a Curley & Pynn client, that fellow C&P employees earned their degrees from UF, and … well, this is just my opinion.)

You Mean You Forgot the Conversation We Never Had?

April 26, 2012

by Dan Ward

Email marketers (OK, spammers) are becoming more and more sophisticated, but this one takes the cake.

Not only is it personalized, it also includes an email that I supposedly sent to the spammer, requesting that he follow up with me! It obviously is meant to reach busy people who might say, “gee, I normally wouldn’t give this guy the time of day, but apparently we’ve already talked and I asked him to follow up. He must be legit.” It also is meant to skate through spam filters, and on this point it was successful.

What made it a little less successful is the fact that “Steve Smith” sent the exact same message to my partner, Kim Taylor, suggesting that she made the exact same “follow up” request to him at the exact same time on the exact same day.

Memo to “Steve Smith at Tri-Cities Financial:” Since you have the power of putting words in my mouth, I wonder if you can guess the words I’m thinking of right now.

Escape app, please.

April 25, 2012

by Roger Pynn



Location-based technology is following me.  I can’t get away from it.  Now, even the news is following me.

Is it just me, or do we need an escape app?  I realize I can turn things off, but the urge to respond to every notification is driving me crazy.

And we wonder why people are texting while driving.

There is a Crisis Among Us

April 25, 2012

by Vianka McConville

In the last few days, Facebook has been targeted as a sexist company.  Ultraviolet, an online group with a mission to combat “sexism everywhere,” feels it is wrong that a woman does not sit on Facebook’s board and encourages the company to invite women to do so before it goes public in a few months.

As I write these words, Facebook may have already been presented with a petition of 58,000 people in support of Ultraviolet’s view.  There is a planned protest outside of Facebook’s headquarters in New York City Wednesday afternoon.  Facebook has not issued a response on their company website.

Mashable notes Facebook’s COO is Sheryl Sandberg, and she has some clout.  To me, Ultraviolet’s logical leap in accusations seems a bit stretched.  Their reasoning for Facebook to add women to the board is even less sound.  Comments on this article are few and mostly in question of the group’s intentions.  I’m sure Facebook (a large company that should know better) has a crisis plan for times like these (I hope).  Fifty-eight thousand people cannot go ignored.  Facebook has a unique opportunity to extinguish a flame before it goes viral. Addressing an issue is always easier than reigning in a backlash.

A YouTube Tip You Can Use

April 25, 2012

by Kim Taylor

Ever share a video and find yourself saying something like, “hey, this is a great video, but the important part is at the 2:23 mark.”  And then the person watching the video has to master the art of dragging that little status bar to exactly the right spot … awkward!

Save yourself that awkward moment with this handy tip.

Add #t= and the number of minutes/seconds (m s) to the end of the YouTube URL, create the new link and voila! Awkward crisis averted.

Let’s see this in action …

Original YouTube link:

We love Eric Qualman’s stuff, but I really love this part at the 1:59 mark where he includes the Darth Vader Volkswagen commercial.

Edited YouTube link:

Cool, right?  Now, that’s a tip you can use!

Central Florida Needs PR

April 23, 2012

by Vianka McConville

The last few weeks have been interesting for Central Florida, to say the least. Reporters at the Orlando Sentinel have not been shying away from printing unusual events, making Florida quite newsworthy in the national arena.

It’s been tough with a car AND a plane crashing into different Publix stores in different parts of the state, burned bodies found along a popular trail and an early morning shot fired into a car, hitting a passenger while traveling on I-4. Fox News and CNN have shared the stories, not to mention the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman trial coverage.

These stories are a reminder that unusual events make headlines for better or worse. I wonder if the rest of the nation views Florida as the place to retire and sip away the day at the beach or if a negative view of the area looms, perhaps recently from the onset of Casey Anthony. It would be interesting to know.”

Two Sides to the “Today” Show Goof

April 23, 2012

NBC Hits the Trifecta

by Dan Ward

The New York Times on Sunday published a great story by David Carr regarding how NBC refuses to broadcast a correction to a major story despite hitting “the trifecta of being misleading, incendiary and dead-bang wrong.”

As many know by now, the “Today” show aired a story on March 22 about the Trayvon Martin case, in which tape of a 911 call from George Zimmerman was edited in such a way that it made it appear as though Zimmerman had made racist statements. (The unedited tape showed that Zimmerman was responding to direct questions from the 911 operator.)

NBC News did an investigation, fired the producer in charge and made a public apology. But as Carr points out, the one thing NBC did not do was correct the story in the same place where the error was made: the “Today” show.

Carr details the reasons why broadcast networks rarely if ever air corrections, and admits to being surprised when the president of NBC News agreed that it was wrong not to air a correction, saying “we probably should have done it on our own air.”

The question is whether “should” will ever become “will.”

So how about it, NBC? Will we ever hear Matt Lauer utter the words, “we goofed?”

Just the Facts

by Roger Pynn

If a tree falls in the woods and there’s no one there, does it still make a noise?

If you buy into the logic in New York Times media columnist David Carr’s Sunday column, the answer is either “no” or “maybe.”

Carr took NBC to task for failing to broadcast a correction about the bogus editing of 911 tapes from the Trayvon Martin killing on the “Today” show, where the outrageous edits were used.  He gives NBC a lot of credit for dealing quickly with the nightmarish incident that further fanned the flames in this case, but he in exasperation asks:

“What is it with television news and corrections?  When the rest of the journalism world gets something wrong, they generally correct themselves.  But network news acts as if an on-air admission of error might cause a meteor to land on the noggin of one of its precious talking heads.  NBC used all of the powers at its disposal to amend the mistake, except the high-visibility airtime where the bad clip ran in the first place.”

Carr goes on to say that at newspapers like the Times “corrections are usually not placed in highly visible news space, but they are consistent in where they appear, and readers can go there or not as they wish.”  Really?

Isn’t that to say that readers should turn to their paper’s corrections column every day to see whether anything they read was right or wrong?

I agree NBC should have made up for its mistake on “Today,” where it erred.  But I also think the Times and other papers need to live up to the same standard … not leave it up to concerned readers to serve as fact checkers.

Insert Name of Defendant HERE

April 20, 2012

by Dan Ward

Roger Pynn wrote recently that he wonders if Central Florida will ever get over the image we get from high-profile trials.

Judging from this screen capture from Central Florida News 13, I’m guessing the media have yet to get over the last high-profile trial held here, and the public fascination it generated.

Template journalism at its finest.


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