by Roger Pynn
In his book, Delivering Happiness, Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh shares countless “aha” moments and makes a fun and insightful read out of discovering that companies can, in fact, manage their culture. Hsieh and friends have devoted themselves to it, focused on a fun and supportive environment, and turned their online shoe store into a fortune … as well as a way of life.
Interestingly, as his story reaches its cash register moment when Amazon was about to buy Zappos but with a proviso that it could retain its independence, he recalls that the company had become the focus of a lot of publicity and countless requests that he and his colleagues make speeches at important industry shows and conferences.
Hsieh says many people just assumed the company had mounted a major public relations effort to generate that attention, but instead points out that it was the result of their success.
In fact, that’s the way it should happen. Actions speak louder than words and effective public relations programs are simply good story-telling built around people who do their jobs well.
Part of the Zappos culture is to share openly and to invite their vendors behind the curtain so they become partners rather than having to spend time negotiating every dime of profit from the relationship. That kind of openness is sure to generate buzz … and buzz is a major tool of a modern public relations program.
Zappos is proof of the power of viral communication. Even if they didn’t think that what they were doing was part of a public relations program, they were doing it very effectively … and that should be a lesson to all companies and their senior managers.