Happy Customers Blog, Too

    July 24, 2005

Rob Safuto, creator of the terrific Podcast NYC, is out with a new blog. The Red Room Chronicles is dedicated to Marriott Hotels.

I’ve been a Marriott Rewards member for years as I’ve been a traveling consultant for the IT and now Energy Industry since 1998. After staying in so many Marriott’s I’ve come to value inside information on the company for both business and leisure purposes. My hope is that this blog will become a fine resource for travelers everywhere who prefer Marriott Hotels.

Links: Podcast NYC and Red Room Chronicles

This product-focused blog is the polar opposite of “Discover the Truth about the Land Rover Discovery 3” blog, inaugurated by a vey unhappy customer. The blog chronicles the customer’s experience and Land Rover’s response (or lack thereof) and represents a public relations nightmare for the organization. (They could certain turn the situation to their advantage by taking certain steps, but as it stands, the blog is a very public expose of the company’s lack of customer focus.)

Safuto, on the other hand, is a happy customer who prefers not to stay anywhere but Marriott. His blog represents a pure opportunity for Marriott. Whether they capitalize on that opportunity (by taking Safuto into their confidence and feeding him advance information, as they would a reporter covering the brand), “Red Room Chronicles” could become-as Safuto hopes it will-a source of information for people with an interest in Marriott.

It’s not the first blog of its kind by any stretch of the imagination. All those Macintosh-focused blogs (including the ones Apple sued) embrace exactly the same concept. But the introduction of a blog on something as non-tech as a hotel chain indicates that we’ll see more and more of this approach. It could affect everything from company PR to the role of an investment analyst.

Does it mean there’s no role for PR? As Todd Cochrane suggested on Geek News Central, does’t this just mean companies should can their PR staffs and encourage-or even pay-more Rob Safutos to blog about the company? Not on your life. In addition to the things the PR professionals do that are behind the scenes, communicators can provide support to these bloggers and use the blogs’ contents to reinforce other communication efforts.

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Shel Holtz is principal of Holtz Communication + Technology which focuses on helping organizations apply online communication capabilities to their strategic organizational communications.

As a professional communicator, Shel also writes the blog a shel of my former self.