Have you heard about the musician who created a video detailing the destruction of his guitar by United Airlines? It is one of my favorite news stories. In fact, it is what makes me love PR as much as I do, because of publicity’s organic nature. Who would’ve thought that United Airlines (which really made me mad about seven years ago when they wouldn’t let me son on a flight due to THEIR mistake regarding a paper ticket), would come out, well, not smelling like a rose, but at least given the chance to improve its less than stellar reputation.
Just in case you haven’t been following the story, here goes—Dave Carroll, the leader of a Canadian band, Sons of Maxwell, was passing through O’Hare last year when a fellow passenger noticed the baggage handlers MISHANDLING guitars. His $3,500 guitar was severely damaged, but when Carroll tried to get the airline to compensate him, he had no luck. So, I suppose he did what he does best: he wrote a song. And then he posted it on YouTube and then boom, it went viral. Once United realized how popular his “United Breaks Guitars” song had become someone wisely called him and now he’s finally getting the customer service he deserves.
What brings a smile to my face is how much fabulous publicity this guy has received. It’s amazing to finally see someone not only get compensated but garner the attention so many of us dream about when a company has done us wrong. To me, Carroll’s story offers one of the best lessons we’ll ever learn about the power of social media. Carroll and his and spent just $150 to make the video and then posted information on Facebook and Twitter to let people know what they could see on YouTube.
According to WBBM radio (Chicago), “Carroll said he had heard United plans to use the video for customer service training.”