Category Archives: Communication

Unfriendly Skies

An Austria-based airline recently forced its passengers to pool funds to pay for $31,500 worth of fuel during a trip.

And in another instance, passengers refused to deplane from a Hong Kong carrier until they received what they felt was appropriate compensation for a 9-hour delay.

In the era of social media, these instances will not go unnoticed. They may not make endless headlines like, say, a quickie celebrity divorce–but people will talk about them, to a global audience.

So if you’re a business, how do you handle this? What do you do to keep this from happening at your company? And here’s a tip: it’s better to keep the incident from happening in the first place than to make up for it later.

Don’t strongarm your customers. It’s a really bad business practice.


Tips for Using QR Codes Effectively

Everywhere you look, bar codes that bear an eerie resemblance to Space Invaders are appearing. “Quick Response” codes, known as QR codes, can be found on posters, magazine ads, ice cream containers, and beyond. So what are they good for, and how can you make the most of them? Mashable has a post with tips; here are my thoughts.

1) Start with “why?”. Know what you hope to accomplish by using a QR code. “All the cool kids are doing it” still isn’t a great reason. Are you driving people to a mobile site? Supporting a specific promotion or campaign? The answer to this question is important.

2) Know what you want your customers to do. You need them to want to scan the code. Think about your call to action, and why a customer would want to follow it.

3) Think about where you’re sending them. A QR code is a mobile tool. Don’t send them to a regular website–send them to a mobile-friendly page.

4) Know what you’re measuring. It’s great to know how many people scan the code. Beyond that, though, take a look at how much time they spend on your site after scanning that code. Engagement matters here. And how does it compare to other avenues? Are other approaches–Facebook, Twitter, etc.–providing greater contacts and engagement?

5) Be creative. I was at the Santa Barbara Zoo this summer, and they had what I thought was a terrific use for QR codes: providing current video of animals that are likely to be asleep, hidden, or sedentary at the time you walk by the enclosure. Toys R Us is including them in their “Great Big Toys R Us Book” this year, to provide more information about specific products–and even to show some of them in action.

Redbox: How to Communicate With Customers

Previously, I’ve talked about Netflix‘s communication woes. They’ve repeatedly managed to do a stunningly poor job of explaining their business changes to their customers, and it’s been costing them.

So it’s nice to see that another company either learned from that, or just knew all along how to do it better. A colleague forwarded the following e-mail that he got regarding price changes at Redbox. Take a look at how they explain why this is necessary.

New Daily DVD Rental Price

Redbox is making an announcement about its prices today, and we want to make sure that you hear it from us first.

Starting on Monday, October 31, the daily rental charge for DVDs will change to $1.20 a day.* The price change is due to rising operating expenses, including new increases in debit card fees. Daily rental charges for Blu-ray™ Discs and video games won’t change.** Additional-day charges for DVDs rented before 10/31 won’t be affected, either.

In order to make the transition easier, Redbox will discount the first day of all online DVD rentals to $1.00 from 10/31 through 11/30. Additional rental days will be $1.20.***

If you have any questions, please visit There, we’ve provided additional information.

This marks our first price change in more than eight years as we work hard to keep prices low for our customers.

Thank you,


See, Reed Hastings? That isn’t so hard, is it?

Occupy History

If you haven’t heard about Occupy [insert name of city], then you really haven’t had access to any media at all.

Yesterday morning, Occupy Oakland protesters were ordered to disperse. Later in the day, they reconvened and were met by riot-gear-clad police with tear gas canisters.

The response on the mayor’s Facebook page makes me wonder: what would the history books say now if the Bonus Army had had access to social media?

(Note: I am a former history book editor, and therefore I feel that I have some credibility when I say that the answer is more complicated than it may look at first glance–which is also worth considering as we evaluate current events and the impact of technology on communication.)

Photo by Theodor Horydczak, via Library of Congress (gift of Norma and Francis Reeves, 1973)

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