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A Big "What Not to Do" Courtesy of Best Buy
As Hurricane Irene was making her way up the coast, I came across this interesting story on one of my favorite blogs. It seems that a Best Buy in Howell, NJ was selling bottled water at immorally high prices while the community the store served was under a hurricane warning. Photo Below.
Before I get to the point of this article, I should point out that I cannot confirm that this is a genuine photo, that it happened in Howell, NJ (or even in a Best Buy) or that this even happened at all. However, the collateral damage is very real and will have an impact on Best Buy.
As we know, perception is reality. And by a single popular blog posting this (I'm not helping), it will begin to make the rounds prompting some type of response from the company, regardless of whether or not it actually happened. Here is a link to the original blog post. (Warning - most comments contain profanity.)
At the time of this writing there were over 250 posts most overwhelmingly negative, if not venomous toward Best Buy. Some comments digressed into complaints about other unpopular policies of the company. All-in-all, not a good day at Best Buy.
I write this article not to pile on the story, rather to demonstrate how empowered customers have become in communicating with the general public to drive or withhold revenue based on the actions of the company, real or not. Best Buy has a PR issue at hand and will have to dedicate expensive resources to generate goodwill, especially in the affected communities.
If there is any takeaway here, aside from the viral nature of such a negative story, it is that PR, social media, and the Internet all play a critical role in the success or failure of businesses of any size. More importantly, when lives and the well-being of people are at stake, companies would be well served to show some loyalty to the communities that keep them in business. That type of PR is priceless.