The Collision of Customer Relations and Public Relations

We were talking today to Paula Berg, digital media leader for Linhart PR, about how Twitter has blurred the line between customer relations and public relations. Berg, who made her name as a digital media leader at Southwest Airlines, was saying that anyone who is on the front lines of customer service with access to an organization’s Twitter account is practicing public relations, whether they’re aware of it or not.

It’s better that they be aware of it, of course. And here is where PR can really stake a claim in leading an organization’s social media strategy. Customer service reps using social media need grounding in basic PR tenets, as do face-to-face customer service reps, whose actions are a tweet away from being broadcast to the world. Customer service reps are tweeting without training in brand reputation management—a potentially terrifying situation, but also one that presents an opportunity for experienced PR pros.

It works the other way around, too—we can all do with some training in how to deal with an irate customer.

—Steve Goldstein





  • Aida Mayo

    Very well said. The “smooth operator” of the past is gone. Anything can become a tweet, fast and furious.

    Don’t sweat the small stuff is not an option anymore. Social media had made reputation management and crisis comm. the “gate keepers” for any organization in today’s digital world.