Saturday, July 11, 2009

Citizen 2.0 - how would a government department address this marketing nightmare?

Over the last week US media has been buzzing with the story of Canadian musician Dave Carroll, whose US$3,500 Taylor guitar was broken on a flight on United Airlines.

Carroll reported that people on the plane had watched with horror as United baggage handlers had roughly handled and thrown his and other guitars while putting them onto the plane.

However, despite nine months of discussion with United, following all the instructions they gave him, the airline finally disavowed any responsibility and refused to pay the US$1,200 required to repair the guitar.

Carroll told the United airlines representative who finally said 'No' that he would write and produce three songs about his experience and publish them to Youtube.

On Monday 6 July the first of these songs was released, soaring to over 1.6 million views in under a week. The story has received coverage on CNN, across major daily papers and across regional and local TV and radio in the US and Canada.

Within a day of the song going live United was on the phone to Carroll, promising to 'make right' the situation. Carroll has directed United to give the money to a charity of their choice and will release the next two songs in the series aimed at United.

How would a government department react if a similar event occurred to them?
Citizens today have many avenues for raising public awareness of perceived mistakes or incompetence, bypassing the traditional government complaints and resolution processes.

All it takes is a single citizen to take their complaint in an engaging manner to an online channel such as YouTube and an issue can become very public very quickly.

Do government departments have a plan for handling these types of events?

Here's the video clip for those who have not yet seen it.

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