I am talking about the Kwik Fit deathtrap car blog post, of course.

The one which Kwik Fit management have been monitoring daily for months now, following their refusal/inability/arrogance to resolve the life-threatening issues around service at one of their UK branches – to resolve it publicly, professionally and promptly.

The only responses appear to be coming from Kwik Fit employees on Facebook – have a look here for yourself. Interesting stuff.

Next port of call here – let’s see if Kwik Fit management can ignore, evade and cover up from BBC Watchdog researchers.

Advertisements

Answer? Try these phrase searches on Google, and you’ll be brought here.

The ongoing blog post about the Kwik Fit deathtrap car blog (another popular Google search phrase at the moment) has reached great heights – more than 100 hits per day, with numerous comments on the blog post itself and the anti-fan page on Facebook.

Other popular routes to the undoing of Kwik Fit’s reputation (a hugely-popular search phrase in the last 3 weeks) include:

Kwik Fit operations manager

Kwik Fit Ian Fraser

Kwik Fit Simon Benson

Kwik Fit Dave Rees

Kwik Fit service reviews

Kwik Fit Bristol

Kwik Fit Whiteladies Road

Kwik Fit Head Office telephone number

Kwik Fit Rob Sandow

Kwik Fit rip-off

These are the top ones at the moment, but the list goes on – and each damaging search term makes an impact on Google, as we know. It’s an incredibly-interesting exercise, and I am noting that Kwik Fit seem to be investing more heavily in search terms and SEO at the moment – obviously in an attempt to keep unhappy customers such as myself from gaining Google rank with our accounts of atrocious service and life-threatening mechanical work undertaken by a corporate who really should know better. The consumer PR’s best effort to date has been an attempt to rubbish the story with a journalist on a daily newspaper. Tut tut.

I am, to be honest, loving the interactions. The hundreds of other ex-Kwik Fit customers who have got in touch with their sorry stories, the countless comments on the blog post, the cutting disdain from ex-Kwik Fit customer on the Facebook anti-fan page, the tweets and retweets from many, many followers. It all adds up to an extremely messy online reputation management case.

I certainly wouldn’t want to be the PR Account Director in charge of sorting this mess out by smoothing over the Press, or attempting to silence an unsilenceable Google build-up of customer condemnation. Treat your customers properly please.

Wait til the eBook on corporate reputation and Kwik Fit is published imminently. That should shake things up still further. Maybe it won’t be of the proportions of recent social media uproar caused by Nestle, but it’s already costing Kwik Fit thousands of customers, a massive hit to online reputation, a total white-walling on social media platforms, and a significant dent in Brand trust overall.

The big question for me is: Would I buy anything from a company which had been consistently slated online by customers? More importantly – would you? And of course, the final question – would anybody? Did silence ever sound so deafening I wonder.

As many of my regular readers already know, my answer to this question is a resounding Yes.

The Kwik Fit example, where I utilised a rising audience to highlight life-threatening service from Kwik Fit Whiteladies Road branch in Bristol, has consistently gained 100+ hits per day since the wholes debacle went public online recently.

And whilst it hasn’t caused a shift from Kwik Fit management – at least not publicly, anyway – what has come to light are the following things:

* The Search rankings have stacked up against Kwik Fit for key phrases, such as ‘Kwik Fit reputation’ on Google in a short space of time

* Kwik Fit management are scouring the blog daily for keywords under their senior managers’ names

* Whilst not publicly addressing the issues I highlighted, Kwik Fit are painfully aware of the true cost of poor customer service

The further examples listed on the blog post – now up to around 60 comments – are making it clear that blogs are a powerful and useful online platform for voicing bad as well as good things about companies. The Facebook anti-fan page is doing well, too.

My question is this – have you, or are you considering, using a blog as a forum to express poor customer service?

Full story here today.

The sale of five-year-old PR and journalism collaboration website Gorkana, which provides PRs with one of the largest media contact databases in the industry, and journalists with a platform to push out editorial requirements, has been sold, netting the co-founders a multi-million deal in the process. Today, for them, is indeed a good day.

But what does it mean for the rest of us?

For me, it highlights the following things:

* Information and connections are still premium-level assets, which businesses will pay handsomely for

* PR and journalism can co-exist, as long as groundrules are set firmly in place prior to engagement

* Online content can be highly profitably, if packaged appropriately and with the end-user in mind

What are you doing to ensure that your online content, connections and information are premium-level assets? Do you handle it all yourself, or call in professional help? Do you work in PR and/or journalism and use Gorkana?

More importantly, for me, isn’t Gorkana also an incredible source of information for businesses and marketers? Can you use it?

The increasing realisation that information, content and connections are lucrative assets will see many more sales of this kind over the next 12 months, I predict. And congratulations to the Gorkana management team for spotting the opportunity now.

And here’s the proof.

It’s a scientific art, by the looks of it, to produce and effectively distribute social media content on the right platforms at the right times to the right audiences. Some of us, of course, already knew this revolutionary piece of information. To some, it’s news.

Great article from Jason Baer on socialmediatoday, which clearly highlights a strong belief of mine, too, around social media content – you can create content which cascades across a number of social media platforms with appropriate tweaks.

Social media content monitoring, too, is now a purely scientific act – with the plethora of measuring and monitoring tools and techniques available, there is no reason why full understanding of the effectiveness, placement, popularity and positioning of social media content cannot be explored and utilised across numerous social media platforms. Truly profitable content usage.

I particularly like Baer’s content ladder diagram – this shows how social media content moves down a funnel via different social media platforms, being tweaked and used at each stage. The detractors of social media and ‘prove traditional ROI, dammit’ would do well to study this diagram and learn. Added-value alone from social media content re-distribution can be considerable.

Even more considerable when you think about how much the average London ad agencies charge for 1 piece of Campaign content.

Social media content is not random, it’s highly developed. Well, when it’s delivered professionally, of course. Fabulous article.

…and it’s all here, folks.

Strikes me as incredibly interesting that a news site project, the Texas Tribune, has amassed more than 200,000 unique users per month since launching. The online news site, which has a staff of 11 reporters according to Roy Greenslade’s Guardian report, also has grown to more than 1 million page views per month.

It has been a huge success thusfar. What, you may be asking, is their secret? It’s a not-for-profit journalism website.

The debate around paid-for vs. free content online rages on. And it certainly looks as if the Tribune is calling a compelling shot for the free content model. It’s clean, well presented, full of rich, strong content, and a great team of reporters and bloggers.

Where can we see British online news sites learning from this American example? There are hints of it here and there, of course.

The concept of free content is largely the standard approach in the States, but British audiences have also followed their lead – trying to get an online audience to pay for content is one of the biggest challenges facing British businesses operating online.

I believe that any online audience will pay for premium-level, unique, value-adding content if the purchasing/marketing conditions are set in place accordingly. And I also believe that readerships value quality journalism and finger-on-the-pulse blogging content, increasingly in equal measure. And both, ultimately, have their rightful place online.

Just look at sites like Mashable. 2.4 million readers, hugely successful revenue streams in place for Pete Cashmore, and growing.

What can we learn from examples such as the Texas Tribune and Mashable? There is, indeed, money to be made from quality content online.

Great comments, insights and inputs from the Guardian Changing Media Summit yesterday on the impact of technology and in particular content distribution on media-land.

The video clip is well worth a view, and clearly points to the ever-increasing demand for strong content from consumers.

Are you responding to this commercial opportunity?

Well, that’s the advice here anyway.

And, in part, I agree with the advocacy of digital journalists in helping businesses to expand and deliver effective social media solutions.

After all, I am also a digital editor amongst other things…not forgetting veteran blogger, SEO copywriter, business editor and media relations strategist. But hey, I don’t want to ramble on about myself, that’s not what this space is about. Never has been.

One of the things which really stands out, for me, about David Meerman Scott‘s thinking on Brand Journalism is the simple fact that behind the tenet of hiring a savvy journalist means that companies get all the key skills required to produce and deliver stunning web content. And as we all know, the secret behind effective social media presence remains the quality of the content.

Now, the corporate PRs will start jumping up and down about this point, as will – no doubt – the traditional broadcast marketers, and the social media ‘gurus’ who are multiplying faster online right now than microbes in a warm petri dish. Well, jump up and down, but answer this question – What is the consistent fact behind successful social media Campaigns globally? Content.

Content attracts customers. Content delivers key messages. Content persuades, engages and converts. And ultimately, a digital editor is going to get to the heart of this content delivery faster and with more clout than any old-school marketer ever could.

So, whilst you watch further YouTube clips from social media marketing ‘experts’, think on this – somewhere, a trained editor is probably creating blinding social media content for a competitor.

And when it goes global, where does that leave the unprepared? Swimming in social media mediocrity without a paddle.

Yes, this post is forthright, direct, and upfront. But then again, winning attention on social media platforms is warfare, folks.

…well, actually, I am. And not on behalf of my clueless PR pal Rubella, either.

Following the popular reactions to my introduction of the staggeringly-awful PR bimbo Rubella Pymley-Bowles from Ostentatious PR in this post, I am calling to you all to highlight further examples of shocking PR, to help educate the fluffier PRs out there. Have had exposure to some nightmare PR this week, which I’ll highlight on another blog post in the near future.

Looking to build up a portfolio here of bad PR, ill-timed PR, and of course totally ostentatious PR. It’s an education process.

So, please add your experiences – the good, the bad, and especially the ugly. It’s not necessary, of course, to name and shame actual Agencies, but the education process of dealing with poorly-timed or ill-prepared PR can hopefully be illuminated.

It’s your space – feel free to vent. With my blessings. Who knows, there may be a few good PR examples to come, too.

Well, according to Mashable, they are – and here it is.

Actually, content from experienced, proven and engaged online marketers and social media masters (I refrain from using the awful terms ‘guru’ or ‘expert’ seeing as there are so many consultants who are new to social media, and yet find these terms relevant in their new pitches to potential clients seem to advocate using them, that the words have absolutely no meaning or relevance anymore) given to us from the venerable web pages of Mashable is always worth a look.

I particularly like Seth Godin‘s words: “Social media isn’t about you, it’s about them.”

How pertinent this comment is within a framework of delivering truly effective and engaging social media content.

Chris Brogan‘s pearls of wisdom are also resonating: “Content is my best B2B social media lesson. I’ve seen many companies learn that providing interesting content (like video testimonials or how-to information) is a great way to encourage prospects, warm up leads, and convert to sales opportunities.”

There are many other useful hints and tips in the Mashable post. It’s simple, common sense, relationship-building advice. The post, for me, sums up the basics really effectively, namely:

* Get the content produced professionally

* Ensure you leave your selling hat in the boardroom

* Remember that the most valuable communication skill these days is that of listening

Social media lessons always seem to be a bit more genuine and meaningful from the guys who’ve been doing it successfully for a while, the guys who got involved with blogging years ago, the guys who don’t sell anything, the guys who give advice freely.

These are the social media Masters I follow. And they all value creative, inspiring, engaging content. Who are you following?