Companies are waking up to what is happening with their brands and there is concern in the boardroom. To them the web 2.0 world is the wild west. There are people staking claims, there are outlaws and there are wild rumours of huge fortunes. This is a digital frontier where the laws of the old world do not apply and voices are raised against the might of the old corporations. There are already celebrated examples of major brands and corporations capitulating in the face of on-line challenges like the David and Goliath battle between Jeff Jarvis and the mighty Dell.
Because of this many businesses are fearful of Web 2.0. They are starting to realise that the PR profession has a new role to play but they feel very uncomfortable about participating in an environment where the consumer talks back. Ultimately the choice for organisations is a simple one, they either take part in these conversations or they don’t but the conversations won’t go away. So ultimately there is no choice. The consumer will demand that the corporate talks to them. According to Brian Solis leading PR 2.0 evangelist “Social Media is no longer an option or debatable. It is critically important to all businesses, without prejudice. It represents a powerful, and additional, channel to first listen to customers, stakeholders, media, bloggers, peers, and other influencers, and in turn, build two-way paths of conversations to them. ..in the process, you become a resource to the very people looking for leadership, expertise, vision, and also solutions… it’s measurable and absolutely tied to the bottom line.”
That is why companies like Dell, Starbucks and Chrysler are actively talking and listening to their customers.