Where There's Smoke, There's PR Spin

from the the-truth's-under-here-somewhere dept

We wrote a few days ago about how a Verizon tech managed to start a fire at a customer's house when installing service. A commenter on that post said the story was wrong, that there was no fire, and that the fire department was called as a "precautionary measure." It turns out that Verizon's PR folks are putting that story out, apparently based on reports from employees that were there. The local deputy fire chief disagrees, though, saying "If there's flames, there's fire." But even the official Verizon party line isn't great: apart from the fire, which supposedly didn't happen, the incident resulted in a 3-foot by 4-foot hole being cut in the side of the customer's house. Verizon's PR people note they're paying for that hole to be repaired. How generous!


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Poomer, Aug 15th, 2007 @ 6:48am

    "Love" PR

    I was starting to wonder if a big company like Verizon was going to do something about this fire news story... PR to the rescue! tatatataaaa

     

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  2.  
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    Poomer, Aug 15th, 2007 @ 6:56am

    Top 3 professions were you are required to LIE

    1. Politics
    2. Law
    3. PR

    Care to expand the list anyone?

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 15th, 2007 @ 7:14am

    Re: Top 3 professions were you are required to LIE

    4. Priests

     

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  4.  
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    TheDock22, Aug 15th, 2007 @ 7:17am

    Silly

    No matter how they try to spin this, common sense for most people will lead them to the truth. I mean, I have had Verizon come to my house before they did not bring a firetruck along with them. Plus they never needed to punch a hole into my wall.

    But maybe we should give them the benefit of the doubt, I mean their PR person never lies. =)

     

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  5.  
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    name, Aug 15th, 2007 @ 7:27am

    Re: Re: Top 3 professions were you are required to

    lol

     

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  6.  
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    RandomThoughts, Aug 15th, 2007 @ 7:29am

    Believing PR people tell lies is really ignorant of what PR's purpose is. It may be spin, but it usually isn't a lie, because lies are too easy to detect, once that has happened, then you really look stupid.

    I remember reading about cable installers that set a customers boat on fire, how yards were ruined running fiber.

    Verizon hires contractors to install fiber, usually they are pretty good, but things do happen. From what I have heard, Verizon always make sure that the customer is returned to their previous state.

    One thing to keep in mind when you are reading what PR people are saying, or anyone for that matter when you read or hear things in the media. They are usually responding to a question, if the guy on site knew that there was no fire, when asked he would say there were no flames. Its not like PR people are running out and announcing to the world their "spin."

    This happened to Gary Sheffield when he was with the Yanks. He did a long interview with someone and he was going on and on about how good friends he was with a teammate, how they hung out, how they got along so well. The reporter asked if anything bugged him about his teammate. As a joke, he said the guy smelled or had a big ego or something stupid like that. Of course, the New York papers make that one line into headlines saying Sheffield was slamming his teammate.

    You can't really always believe what you read or see in the media.

     

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  7.  
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    Phlatus the Elder, Aug 15th, 2007 @ 7:50am

    Re: Random Thoughts' random thoughts

    Believing PR people tell lies is really ignorant of what PR's purpose is. It may be spin, but it usually isn't a lie, because lies are too easy to detect, once that has happened, then you really look stupid.
    Sounds like you're describing a lawyer. (Ever notice how many PR types were trained as attorneys?)
    You can't really always believe what you read or see in the media....
    ...because it's so heavily influenced by PR types and lawyers.

     

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  8.  
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    Chris Borokowski, Aug 15th, 2007 @ 7:50am

    Probably just incompetence

    It's some terrified middle manager responding to the first phone call with panic. "No, it wasn't a fire! There was no fire!" A smarter PR guy would have said, "There was a fire in the vicinity, and we haven't yet figured out if it was the equipment."

     

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  9.  
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    TheDock22, Aug 15th, 2007 @ 7:55am

    Re: Probably just incompetence

    "There was a fire in the vicinity, and we haven't yet figured out if it was the equipment."

    Now THAT'S a good spin. Saying that firetrucks were in the area as a precautionary measure is a horrible statement to make.

     

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  10.  
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    RandomThoughts, Aug 15th, 2007 @ 7:58am

    Elder, not really, its just how the media works. PR types just are more familiar with how the media works, so they stick to a plan. When talking to the media, you usually want to have 3 things to talk about. You keep talking about those 3 things, because if you talk about anything else, that could be the main headline or the story. When that happens, you don't get across the 3 things.

    From the story, it says that the PR person was told by employees that were there that there was no fire. WTF is the PR person supposed to say? Now it would have been wrong for the PR person to explain the 4 foot hole as an added benefit in the attempt to provide the customer with a better breeze in their house, but thats a different story.

     

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  11.  
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    Phlatus the Elder, Aug 15th, 2007 @ 8:13am

    Re:

    its just how the media works.
    Exactly - spin and half-truths. I know LOTS of reporters but only a couple journalists.

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 15th, 2007 @ 8:15am


    Verizon hires contractors to install fiber, usually they are pretty good, but things do happen. From what I have heard, Verizon always make sure that the customer is returned to their previous state.


    How often does it end up that the previous state they return their customers to includes no-service for what was being installed while continuing to bill the customer for that service?

     

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  13.  
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    |333173|3|_||3, Aug 15th, 2007 @ 8:22am

    Re: Re: Top 3 professions were you are required to

    Since lying implies knowing that you are wrong, I doubt that even most atheists woud argue that priest lie.

     

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  14.  
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    RandomThoughts, Aug 15th, 2007 @ 8:22am

    I don't know about the service thing, but I do know that the people who I have talked to that have had Verizon technicians said that the experience was pretty good, up to matching the turf that was put down so as not to cause color change.

    I can't imagine that it is part of Verizon's strategy to burn their customers house down. That wouldn't be a very good selling point. Does stuff happen? Of course. In terms of customer service in the telecom space, the bar isn't all that high. Turning on the service is a top priority for Verizon, because when it takes a while, they see much greater churn. If I jump to FIOS from Cablevision if the service takes 3 days for me to get service, thats 3 days Cablevision has to win me back as a customer. FIOS isn't available to my town yet, but when it is, I will give it a try. Cablevision certainly has not won me over with their service.

     

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  15.  
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    Poomer, Aug 15th, 2007 @ 8:26am

    Re:

    I am glad that you find a gigantic corporation's customer service as "excellent" but I dont think you understand - no one here is trying to argue about Verizon's "excellent" customer service; the article is about PR!

     

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  16.  
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    RandomThoughts, Aug 15th, 2007 @ 8:34am

    And the PR is talking about how they serve the customer. I never said their customer service was excellent, I said that people I talked with that dealt with Verizon said that the experience was pretty good.

     

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  17.  
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    observant, Aug 15th, 2007 @ 8:35am

    Random Thoughts - you do know that you sound like a corporate shill, don't you?

    Me thinks thou dost protest too much.

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 15th, 2007 @ 8:39am

    What you're not getting here "Random Thoughts" is that it doesn't matter what the "employee who was there" tells his company's PR guy when the FIRE CHEIF is saying that there were flames. Anything after that is lies and spin.

     

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  19.  
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    RandomThoughts, Aug 15th, 2007 @ 8:53am

    My question is why didn't the NetworkWorld guy just come out and ask the fire chief "was there a fire?" He played semantics by saying "I called the chief and asked him about the fire on whatever street and he talked to me about it."

    The technician drilled into the main wire, which of course probably isn't a very healthy thing to do. The power company shut down power to a few houses. The fire department cut the hole to check things out to make sure there wasn't a fire.

    Everyone seems to have a "got ya" attitude today. Did Verizon cause the damage? Yes, they didn't deny it. Did they cover the repairs? Yes. Did the PR people try to make Verizon look better? Of course, although anyone that says anything is selling like "hotcakes" has to be a tool.

    Is this worth our time talking about? Seems kind of fun so far.

     

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  20.  
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    Colin, Aug 15th, 2007 @ 9:03am

    Ok...

    Shit happens and they're paying for it. I don't see the story?

     

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  21.  
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    RandomThoughts, Aug 15th, 2007 @ 9:28am

    A corporate shill? Maybe, but not for Verizon. Now if we were talking about risk management maybe. And to tell the truth, we are all shills, in both our professional and personal lives.

     

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  22.  
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    Kevin, Aug 15th, 2007 @ 10:38am

    Re:

    This happened to Gary Sheffield when he was with the Yanks. He did a long interview with someone and he was going on and on about how good friends he was with a teammate, how they hung out, how they got along so well. The reporter asked if anything bugged him about his teammate. As a joke, he said the guy smelled or had a big ego or something stupid like that. Of course, the New York papers make that one line into headlines saying Sheffield was slamming his teammate.

    Is this the same Gary Sheffield who said that the reason that there were so many Hispanics in baseball these days is because the team owners like to boss people around, and that black men wouldn't stand for it but Latinos would?

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 15th, 2007 @ 10:54am

    Tool

    A commenter on that post said the story was wrong, that there was no fire, and that the fire department was called as a "precautionary measure."

    That commenter must be a real tool.

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 15th, 2007 @ 11:01am

    Re:

    And to tell the truth, we are all shills, in both our professional and personal lives.
    The old "everyone does it" defense. That one's been tried by just about kind of sociopath there is to justify their actions. And they often really believe it too.

     

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  25.  
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    RandomThoughts, Aug 15th, 2007 @ 12:09pm

    Shill or just seeing the glass as half full? AC, when you are talking to the opposite sex (or the same sex, depending on your preference, not that there is anything wrong with that) do you talk about good things about yourself or do you talk about the bad things?

    What is the difference between being optomistic vs. shilling (Hopefully Kurt won't get mad, although the Sox are tanking, so who cares)?

    Its not "everyone does it" attitude, its just what people do. I do it, and so do you.

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 15th, 2007 @ 12:49pm

    Re:

    Did Verizon cause the damage? Yes, they didn't deny it.
    And just exactly how is denying that there even was a fire not denying that they caused it? Their seeming dishonesty is the real story here, not the fire itself.

     

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  27.  
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    Phlatus the Elder, Aug 15th, 2007 @ 1:44pm

    Re:

    And to tell the truth,
    The phrase implies that the speaker does not normally tell, or at least has not been telling, the truth. You're a lawyer, aren't you?
    we are all shills, in both our professional and personal lives.
    The ethical adult will be on guard, watching their own behavior for this tendency and will self-correct. The unethical (or immature) person will rationalize the behavior and carry on. The maturing person will recognize that he or she is behaving in this fashion and change.

     

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  28.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 15th, 2007 @ 5:50pm

    Re:

    What is the difference between being optomistic vs. shilling
    What an asinine question. I find it truly difficult to believe that you don't know the difference. And if you really don't know, what are you, too lazy to look it for yourself? OK then, just to save time I'll go ahead and clue you in: Disclosure. Shilling involves ulterior motives. As long as you disclose your interests in something you can go ahead promote it honestly. Shilling is dishonest.

    I can't believe I had to explain that to a supposed adult.

     

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  29.  
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    RandomThoughts, Aug 15th, 2007 @ 7:36pm

    Ulterior motives? Don't we all have them? Don't we all do the same thing at work and in our personal lives? Why are some people so quick to see bad in others? Is it because of the way the world is or is it because how they are and how they view the world? I have no skin in the game on the Verizon story, but some people need to lighten up. Were I in the same place as the Verizon PR person and employees told me there was no fire, I would tell a reporter that there wasn't a fire. What the hell would you have done?

     

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  30.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 16th, 2007 @ 11:40am

    Re:

    I have no skin in the game on the Verizon story..
    I'm sorry, but considering your now repeated attempts to justify dishonesty I have little faith in the veracity of any of your statements. If you say that you have no vested interest in the Verizon story then I suspect that in reality you actually do. It's beginning to look like whoever it was that accused you of shilling was probably right after all.

     

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  31.  
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    BL Sansotta, Aug 17th, 2007 @ 5:29am

    Verizon Chewing up my fence

    Yep, their contractors are outside my window right now. They are going to have to take part of my backyard fence and my grape tree down!! They said that my Verizon service (I have high ((laugh, laugh)) service wireless with them, would not be affected by the new "wires". WHY ARE THEY DOING IT, then?

     

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