I Like Companies That Say ‘We Suck’

    May 25, 2006

I like companies and products that have the guts to say “we suck” or something close to it. It’s very un PR.

It says to me, “hey, we want a best of breed product and we’re going to work our butts off to give it to you.” Now that conversation is king it’s critical that companies begin to have these honest discussions with their customers and do it out in the open. Whether they will is another story entirely. However, I bet that those who take to this approach will gain a leg up because they will be seen as more modest and credible.

The tech industry has been among the first to embrace mea culpas. Microsoft has embodied this in the past. And today, so is Yahoo. In fact, Ernie Hsiung, a member of the Yahoo 360 team, posted about five things he hates about his product. He even responds to my earlier criticism. These include URLs that stink, junky RSS feeds, coworkers who don’t eat their own dog food (now that’s bold!), a lack of synergy with the rest of the Yahoo network and HTML issues. Kudos to Ernie. But this is just the beginning.

If Yahoo is going to turn me around – and others as well – they are going to have to not only listen to what the community is saying but also apply it…and fast. Actions speak louder than words. (Hat tip tp The Unofficial Yahoo Weblog)

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Steve Rubel is a PR strategist with nearly 16 years of public relations, marketing, journalism and communications experience. He currently serves as a Senior Vice President with Edelman, the largest independent global PR firm.

He authors the Micro Persuasion weblog, which tracks how blogs and participatory journalism are changing the public relations practice.