Is Customer Experience the Next Killer App?

design is artEveryone in service businesses talk about it. lists more than 100,000 titles on the topic. Sometimes it seems like it’s a quest that challenges every business owner in America. I’m talking about the concept of “exceptional customer service.” If I had a nickel for every business owner who ever said that they wanted to emulate how Apple engages customers or how Disney treats its guests or how Ritz-Carlton does anything and everything, then I would be able to spend the rest of my days fishing in the Gulf of Mexico with the singular care of bagging a bonefish. We all talk about improving the customer experience, but it remains incredibly elusive as many businesses continue to struggle with maintaining consistent service. Oftentimes, acquisition and retention efforts trump the ability to even consider such a nebulous concept as “customer delight.”

I recently attended a presentation by author Brian Solis, skeptically wondering what mysticism I might get on this topic.  According to Solis, not only are most businesses failing at the customer experience, but they are failing by design. As an analyst and anthropologist, he has researched the problem and offers an interesting and credible perspective. His book, X: The Experience When Business Meets Design, not only details why Apple and Disney kick ass in the experience department but also explains how the key to their success is understanding their customers on multiple levels. Thankfully, Solis isn’t a consultant trying to push a particular system on customer engagement and whatnot. Instead, he outlines how customer experience is the new differentiator and how every business can make meaningful changes. To date, Apple, Disney and the Ritz are ahead because they have designed their products around the customer experience. But fear not. The rest of us are not yet out of the race; we can all catch up.Read More

PR Problems and Legal Muscle Don’t Always Mix 

tug of war | David PR GroupIt baffles me when companies hire lawyers to manhandle public relations issues.  Don’t get me wrong; I love lawyers — literally. My father and both of my brothers are lawyers, as are several of my dearest friends. I also have represented attorneys for decades in all manners of PR matters. Yet sometimes I just want to give a good shake to attorneys who try to overpower PR problems with legal muscle. Two recent examples come to mind.

First, for-profit Dade Medical College has been embroiled in a PR and legal battle with the Miami Herald for the past two years. The Herald ran a series called “Higher-Ed Hustle” that chronicled how predatory practices, political dealings and low test scores are prevalent among some for-profit colleges. Dade Medical College was a regular target of these articles. (Note: Dade Medical College has no affiliation with the public Miami Dade College.)

Dade Medical College sued the newspaper for defamation, though the lawsuit was later dropped. But wait, there’s more: Last week, as the college shuttered its six campuses, news broke that attorneys for Dade Medical College hired a private investigator last year to tail Herald reporter Michael Vasquez. Lawyer Juan Carlos Antorcha with the law firm Rasco Klock Perez Nieto signed an agreement with the would-be Magnum, P.I., to follow and presumably dig up dirt on Vasquez. The contract, which became public for reasons I will explain in a moment, actually had a hand-written note that said “Target: Michael Vasquez/Herald Reporter.” You can’t make this stuff up.Read More

The Politics of Authentic PR and Communications

Leading presidential candidatesThough I enjoy following politics and have had many lively conversations about the presidential campaign, I have hesitated to write about it given the polarizing nature of such things – and the fact that one person’s non-partisan observation can quickly be perceived by another as a partisan insult.

Yet as a public relations professional, it’s difficult to ignore what Stephen Colbert called “the big orange elephant in the room,” meaning Donald Trump.  He’s turned one side of the political landscape on its head, and while you may think he’s soon to flame out, it’s impossible to ignore the fact that he has brought a level of authenticity to the race that hasn’t been seen before.  Therefore, it’s time for me to weigh in.

Part of a classic strategy to win the White House in recent decades has included the following:Read More

Are You the Joan Jett of Literary Agents?

Music legend Joan Jett sold 10 million copies of her rock anthem “I Love Rock ‘n Roll,” but I’m partial to her first album Bad Reputation.

The namesake single was actually re-released after her mega hit, and the music video pokes fun at the 23 different companies that turned her down for a record deal.  Jett takes great pride in her bad girl image even though most of us, including literary agents, need to give a damn about our reputation.

Why should we?  My book, for which I’m seeking representation, covers this among other topics:

  • You will be Googled, particularly if you are looking for a job. I have seen statistics stating that 77%–90% of employers research applicants online, and they don’t stop with Google. A CareerBuilder study last year found that more than 40% of employers review applicants’ social media accounts, and more than half found information that caused them not to hire an applicant.
  • The impact of online review sites continues to grow:
    • 72% of consumers will consider buying a product or service with a 3-star rating, while only 27% will consider a product or service with a 2-star rating.
    • 40% of consumers read online reviews on their smartphones at the point of sale.
    • 88% of online shoppers incorporate reviews into the purchase decision process.
  • Negative information online cuts a wide swath.  For example, online complaint site Ripoff Report has nearly 2 million online complaints and has been visited nearly 9 billion times since its founding in 1998.  At least a half dozen other online complaint sites exist with similar online authority.

We are all vulnerable to online attacks and the market is significant for a book that explains how people and businesses can protect and defend their reputations online.  I have heard hundreds of horror stories during the past two years of sitting on the frontlines of online reputation management.  There’s much to be learned by all of us.  I hope my book can be a solution.  Click here to read a sample and or contact me at or 305-724-3903 to discuss or request a copy of my book proposal.


How to Destroy Any Literary Agent’s Reputation Online

how to destroy a literary agent's reputationWe are all vulnerable to online attacks.  Literary agents, like most people, probably believe that being a good citizen and acting in a professional manner serves as a reasonable hedge against an attack on their online reputation.  Several situations suggest otherwise:

  • Elizabeth, the owner of a literary agency who has represented numerous New York Times bestselling authors, found herself in the middle of a “he said / she said” argument with an aspiring author.  Elizabeth’s agency shopped the book to more than a dozen publishers yet all passed — a common situation I imagine.  But the author, feeling neglected nonetheless, decided to call-out Elizabeth on a website called Ripoff Report.  He made a good choice if his intention was to do maximum reputational damage.  Ripoff Report has more than one million pages of online complaints and makes most of its money from advertising revenue – so the site’s owners don’t really care about the veracity of the site’s content.  If you Google Elizabeth (not her real name) the Ripoff Report listing sits on page one of search results.

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What’s the Deal With Book Deals?

john p. david book artThe book publishing world has been in tremendous flux in recent years, but I had no idea how much so until I began researching options for my own book about how to defend your reputation online. I have included a link for anyone who wants to read the first chapter. But first, here’s what I have learned so far about the current state of publishing.

For decades, a limited number of publishing houses that distributed books through brick and mortar retailers controlled the book business. If you wanted to publish a book, you had to go through the traditional system. This meant finding an agent to shop your book to the publishing houses on your behalf. If they selected your manuscript, enlightened editors would massage it (at least that’s how I envisioned it) and carefully market it—including arranging a cover design, reviews, bookstore windows, signings, and maybe even a book tour.

The system worked for a long time, but a number of factors have contributed to recent erosion. Read More

5 Reasons to Start a CEO Blog

5 reasons to Start a CEO BlogPublish or perish!  We hear about it in the context of academia all the time.  In order for would-be professors to be considered for tenured positions, they need to regularly showcase their brilliance through publishing relevant scholarly works.  I would argue that CEOs should follow the same advice though they need not regularly publish doctoral-thesis-worthy communications but rather compelling blog content which can advance their business and personal interests.  Below are five reasons why companies should embrace the CEO blog:

Puts a face to your organization.  A CEO is almost always the best single human asset that a company has, particularly start-ups and smaller companies.  Yet many businesses hide their top asset behind a marketing curtain.  A short website bio, usually without contact information, makes most CEOs appear inaccessible.  If your goal is to be a customer-facing and customer-focused organization, a CEO blog can create a public face for a company.  Showcasing your company’s personality can go a long way to defining your values.Read More

Can Your Reputation Withstand Increased Surveillance?

Vatican_Pope_06523CCTV_CamerasSitting in a restaurant with a friend recently, I asked a simple question: How many cameras are in this place? He looked up and immediately pointed out several hemispherical domes in the ceiling, scattered around the restaurant. He identified the surveillance cameras and confidently guessed “about 10” — but he had fallen right into my trap. What about the cell phone cameras, I asked? He frowned as we upped the count to likely north of 50, when considering the camera-phone-bearing customers and employees. At that moment, if a customer were to try to sneak off with a pastry, steal someone’s wallet or go on an epic rant about the price of an extra scoop of guacamole, there were dozens of people at the ready to document it. Any misstep could turn into an online reputation issue within moments. And this is true not just at a Panera Bread in Florida but nearly every restaurant and retail store in the United States. Whether we like it or not, we are being watched.

200 Million Camera Phones
According to analysts, there will be more than 200 million camera phones in the United States by 2017. (The U.S. population is around 320 million, by the way.) We have about 50 million surveillance cameras in America, and that number is likely growing at a rapid clip as the prices for such devices fall, and they become easy to monitor with web-based technology.Read More

Make your mobile phone valueless online reputation securitySince I started helping people with online reputation issues, I have heard some amazing tales but few as educational as this one.  A lady called me up with an awful problem.  Her phone had been stolen from her locker at her job and now, yes you may have already guessed it, inappropriate pictures of her were now on the Internet.  She made three mistakes, all preventable.  Yet, the main lesson is that we all need to make our mobile phones valueless.

First, what the girl did wrong.  Taking naked pictures of oneself — duh!  This one confounds me but just continues-on in our society.  We need to teach our sons and daughters not to do this, and also teach them not to ask it of other people.  In addition, this young lady failed herself in two other technical categories.  She didn’t enable the passcode feature on her phone, and she didn’t set up the Find My iPhone/remote data-erasing features.  In her case, three strikes equaled revenge porn.

Sadly, we can buy purchase protection to replace a lost or stolen phone, but no such insurance exists for a damaged reputation.

On to my main point, if you truly want to protect yourself from the many perils of a lost or stolen phone, you need to have everything of value backed up, preferably automatically.  If you lose possession of your phone, the physical value of your phone should be the only concern you have.   Here’s how you do it, and the cloud service providers are going to love me.Read More

3 Pieces of Advice From an Online Reputation Fixer

Originally published on

For the past two years, I have been building a segment of my business around helping people with online problems.

Striving to get negative content removed from search on behalf of my clients has been, without question, one of the most interesting things I have done in my 25-year career in public relations.

I gained interest in the practice due to a number of factors. Part of it was directly related to hearing an increasing number of online horror stories, and the other part of it has to do with my sometimes overly righteous personality. I have strong opinions about what is fair and what is unfair in life, and the Internet can be incredibly unfair. It enables people to say almost anything they want. The door to the online world is wide open for crazy people, mean people and folks with an axe to grind.

As I develop my own reputation as something on an online reputation fixer, I have learned that a huge number of folks have issues with our digital world. The Internet plays a major role in how we are perceived, and many of the challenges facing PR professionals today have to do with online issues. Quickly and steadily, the two worlds are starting to collide.Read More