You Can’t Be Fired For a Facebook Post Calling Your Boss a “LOSER”–NLRB v. Pier Sixty 0

Screen Shot 2017-04-28 at 8.43.39 AMThis is a Facebook firing case. The employee worked at Pier Sixty, which operated a catering company in New York. In early 2011, its employees became involved in a union organizing campaign, ultimately voting to unionize. Hernan Perez worked as a server. Prior to the election, his supervisor apparently barked orders at Perez and two others: “Turn your head that way and stop chitchatting” . . “spread out, move, move.” During a break from work, Perez posted to Facebook [capitalization and punctuation in the original, obviously]:

Bob [the supervisor] is such a NASTY MOTHER FUCKER don’t know how to talk to people!!!! Fuck his mother and his entire fucking family!!!! What a LOSER!!!! Vote YES for the UNION!!!!

The post was publicly accessible, though Perez thought that only his Facebook friends, including some co-workers, could see the post. He took down the post a few days later. In the interim, the post came to management’s attention, and they terminated him.

The NLRB alleged that Perez’s termination was unlawful. An ALJ agreed, finding that Perez had been terminated for protected activity. A divided three member panel affirmed. The parties both appealed to the Second Circuit.

Perez’s post is presumably protected activity, but the employer can nevertheless terminate him if it was “overly abusive.” Courts have employed several tests to determine whether obscenities in the workplace qualifies as overly abusive. One test considers: (1) the place of the discussion; (2) the subject matter; (3) the nature of the outburst; and (4) whether the outburst was provoked by the employer’s unfair labor practice. The Second Circuit criticized that test as giving insufficient weight to the employer’s interest in preventing outbursts “in the presence of customers.”

Separately, the General Counsel’s Office developed guidance for evaluating when employers’ efforts to curtail employee social media use violated the Act. This guidance is described as “more employee-friendly.” In light of this guidance, the Board uses a nine-factor totality-of-circumstances test. The ALJ used that test in the Perez case. The employer did not contend the ALJ used the wrong test. Instead, it appeared to challenge the factual conclusions of the ALJ and the panel.

The appeals court concludes that Perez’s firing was improper:

First, although Perez used vulgar attacks and referenced the supervisor’s family, the subject matter of the message included workplace concerns. The post protests mistreatment by management and urges a yes vote on unionization.

Second, the employer previously tolerated profanity among workers. Apparently, a chef and the supervisor here, regularly cursed at employees, including screaming phrases such as “what the fuck are you doing,” “mutherfucker,” and “are you guys fucking stupid”.

Third, the court says:

the “location” of Perez’s comments was an online forum that is a key medium of communication among coworkers and a tool for organization in the modern era. While a Facebook post may be visible to the whole world, including actual and potential customers, as Pier Sixty argues, Perez’s outburst was not in the immediate presence of customers nor did it disrupt the catering event. Furthermore, Perez asserts that he mistakenly thought that his Facebook page was private and took the post down three days later, upon learning that it was publicly accessible. We thus conclude . . . that the Board did not err in ruling that Perez’s Facebook post, although vulgar and inappropriate, was not so egregious as to exceed the NLRA’s protection. Nor was his Facebook post equivalent to a “public outburst” in the presence of customers and thus can reasonably be distinguished from other cases of “opprobrious conduct.”

The result is similar to another Second Circuit case where the court also found that employee speech constituted protected activity. There, the court went so far as to invalidate the employer’s blogging policy: “Anti-Employer Chatter On Facebook Protected By NLRA–Triple Play v. NLRB”. In blogging that case, I made the following observation:

the ruling also takes an employer-unfavorable approach to evaluating who the audience was to employee speech. This is the opposite of the approach in typical employee discharge cases where the employee’s arguments that a post was only viewable by his or her friends usually gets no traction whatsoever. The court flips that argument here and says that, even if customers viewed the speech, the employer can’t invoke brand harm as a basis for termination if the customers were not the primary audience.

That sounds like a similar approach to the one the court took here. The employee got the benefit of the doubt regarding the possible audience. This is unique in Facebook firing cases, where the “I didn’t know what my privacy settings were” argument usually gets little or no traction. (See the numerous cases linked below.)

Eric’s Comments:

* Unless they practice employment law, most lawyers don’t think much about the NLRB. However, the NLRB’s policies about employees’ use of social media are counterintuitive, and they cast a long shadow on employer activities. As painful as it will be, we have to keep tabs on the NLRB’s positions on social media law.

* Perez’s post explicitly referenced the unionization effort, which dramatically increased the odds that the NLRA applied. However, the NLRA can apply even when unionization is not on the horizon. So it’s possible the NLRB would have reached the same result even without Perez’s last sentence. Still, Venkat and I have reported on so many cases where employees have lost their jobs for intemperate remarks on Facebook. An employee-favorable ruling in this circumstance doesn’t change the overall perspective that online bitching about your job and your boss remains a high-risk strategy.

* The appellate court opinion spends extra time grokking the implications of saying “Fuck his mother.” Apparently the judges were more bothered by an F-bomb directed at mom than at other offensive aspects of Perez’s post.

* As we all know, our President routinely calls just about everyone else a “LOSER”even his own 4 year old son. It’s become one of the many not-so-funny peculiarities of our president. In light of that, of course Perez should have unfettered discretion to call his boss, or just about anyone else, a “LOSER.” He’s just following the role modeling by our country’s leader.

Case citation: NLRB v. Pier Sixty, LLC, 2017 WL 1445028 (2d Cir. Apr. 21, 2017). The NLRB case page.

Related Posts:

Anti-Employer Chatter On Facebook Protected By NLRA–Triple Play v. NLRB

Can Your Employer Fire You For Posting Vacation Photos to Facebook?–Jones v. Accentia

Texas Court of Appeals Rejects Privacy Claims Based on Facebook Firing – Roberts v. Craftily

Teacher’s Semi-Racy Facebook Photo Doesn’t Justify Firing – In re Laraine Cook

Do Employers Really Tread a Minefield When Firing Employees for Facebook Gaffes?

Employee’s Discrimination Claim Can’t be Salvaged by Coworker’s Allegedly Inappropriate Facebook Post — Brown v Tyson Foods

More Proof That Facebook Isn’t The Right Place To Bitch About Your Job–Talbot v. Desert View

Facebook Post Isn’t Good Reason To Remove Attorney From Probate Court Case Assignment List

Demoting Police Officer for Posting Confederate Flag to Facebook Isn’t First Amendment Violation

Nurse Properly Fired and Denied Unemployment Due to Facebook Rant

Employee’s Twitter Rant Means He Doesn’t Get Unemployment Benefits–Burns v. UCBR

Police Officer’s Facebook Post Criticizing Her Boss Isn’t Protected Speech–Graziosi v. Greenville

Facebook Complaints About Boss’s Creepy Hands Can’t Salvage Retaliation/Harassment Claims

Facebook Rant Against ‘Arial’ Font Helps Reverse Sex Offender Determination

Employee Termination Based on Mistaken Belief of Facebook Post Authorship Upheld — Smizer v. Community Mennonite Early Learning Ctr.

Social Worker’s Facebook Rant Justified Termination — Shepherd v. McGee

Police Officers Lean on School to Fire Social Worker for Facebook Post–and May Have Violated First Amendment

Police Officer’s Facebook Venting Isn’t Protected By The First Amendment–Gresham v. Atlanta

Court Upholds Doocing For Snarky Facebook Post — Rodriquez v. Wal-Mart

Employee’s Privacy Claim Based on Allegedly Improper Access to Facebook Post Fails — Ehling v. Monmouth-Ocean Hosp.

University May Be Liable for Improper Access to Student’s Facebook Photos – Rodriguez v. Widener Univ.

Facebook Entry and Blog Post May Support Retaliation Claim – Stewart v. CUS Nashville

Employee Terminated for Facebook Message Fails to State Public Policy Claim — Barnett v. Aultman

Source: Eric Goldman Legal

Facing the stormy waters of change : Shea Moisture 0

There are thousands of companies in the United States with small, but intensely loyal, followings. Often these companies start out with one product that truly hits the mark, then they expand their product line to include other items that speak to the same target audience. From there, the small business grows and grows and then plateaus and plateaus. It’s at that point that the company has to make a decision; keep on catering to the same audience and give up on growth, or expand the brand to include a different target market.

Most will vote for expansion, but that comes with a price. A price that could wipe out all of the loyalty and goodwill you gained in the growth years.

This is what happened to Shea Moisture. The company has been making and selling natural beauty products aimed at a multicultural audience since 1912. Their core customer base is primarily women of color, but the company’s CEO Richelieu Dennis has been actively trying to expand the brand in several ways.

First, he fought to end segregation in the beauty aisles.  Instead of putting products like his in the “ethnic” section, he pushed to have them included with the usual suspects. His #BreakTheWalls campaign received more than 300 million impressions on social media. His second step also received a lot of attention, but for all the wrong reasons.

Last month, Shea Moisture released a new video campaign featuring four women talking about their hair care problems. The message: love your hair, even if it’s difficult to deal with. “Break free from hair hate!”

It wasn’t the hair Shea Moisture’s current customers hated, it was the ad which heavily featured a very pale set of redheads and a blonde. Suddenly Shea Moisture was dealing with backlash whiplash. Those vocal and loyal customers were now just as vocal but not in a good way.

One woman posted this comment on Facebook:

“To know/hear that Black women marketing and social media experts advised that you not forget your target audience in your ads and ‘new’ marketing outreach (hint: many of us in NYC media know each other and we TALK) and you still chose to ignore this advice and to toss us to the back of the ad as an after-thought will be your undoing. Sad. I’ve only ever bought a couple SM products (but I have bought many others from your family of companies, including Madame CJ Walker brand) but this turn of events will definitely curtail my purchasing with SM….”

That comment was written as a response to the company’s very frank and genuine apology. Now that the company’s reputation has taken a hit, they have some big decisions to make. The first is one and done: the video has been taken down. Next, they need to make a new video and they could go one of two ways. They could go back to their core audience and create a video aimed specifically at women of color and risk blowing their chances of expanding into new territory. Or, they could create a video with a better ethnic balance. This seems like the right answer, but creating a 30 second spot that addresses the beauty issues of all different types of women is tricky.

Shea Moisture’s CEO isn’t giving up growth just because his core customers demand it. He is going to slow the boat while giving those customers a little extra love and attention.

CEO Dennis told Fast Company

“We need to make sure we spend the time engaging with that community, encouraging them, and letting them know that just because we’re growing doesn’t mean they’re less important. in fact, they become more important because they’re the ones who have always advocated for us.”

Therein lies the secret to change. Before you outgrow your current audience, take them into your confidence and empower them to be the ambassadors for that change. This is called keeping your friends close and your potential enemies even closer.

Image: SheaMoisture’s Twitter and FB Page

Source: Reputation Refinery

Pop-Ups, Overlays, Modals, Interstitials, and How They Interact with SEO – Whiteboard Friday 0

Posted by randfish

Have you thought about what your pop-ups might be doing to your SEO? There are plenty of considerations, from their timing and how they affect your engagement rates, all the way to Google’s official guidelines on the matter. In this episode of Whiteboard Friday, Rand goes over all the reasons why you ought to carefully consider how your overlays and modals work and whether the gains are worth the sacrifice.

Pop-ups, modals, overlays, interstitials, and how they work with SEO

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Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we’re chatting about pop-ups, overlays, modals, interstitials, and all things like them. They have specific kinds of interactions with SEO. In addition to Google having some guidelines around them, they also can change how people interact with your website, and that can adversely or positively affect you accomplishing your goals, SEO and otherwise.


So let’s walk through what these elements, these design and UX elements do, how they work, and best practices for how we should be thinking about them and how they might interfere with our SEO efforts.


So, first up, let’s talk specifically about what each element is. A pop-up now, okay, there are a few kinds. There are pop-ups that happen in new windows. New window pop-ups are, basically, new window, no good. Google hates those. They are fundamentally against them. Many browsers will stop them automatically. Chrome does. Firefox does. In fact, users despise these as well. There are still some spammy and sketchy sites out there that use them, but, generally speaking, bad news.


When we’re talking about a pop-up that happens in the same browser window, essentially it’s just a visual element, that’s often also referred to as an overlay. So, for the purposes of this Whiteboard Friday, we’ll call that an overlay. An overlay is basically like this, where you have the page’s content and there’s some smaller element, a piece, a box, a window, a visual of some kind that comes up and that essentially says, maybe it says, “Sign up for my email newsletter,” and then there’s a place to enter your email, or, “Get my book now,” and you click that and get the book. Those types of overlays are pretty common on the web, and they do not create quite the same problems that pop-ups do, at least from Google’s perspective. However, we’ll talk about those later, there are some issues around them, especially with mobile.


Modals tend to be windows of interaction, tend to be more elements of use. So lightboxes for images is a very popular modal. A modal is something where you are doing work inside that new box rather than in the content that’s underneath it. So a sign-in form that overlays, that pops up over the rest of the content, but that doesn’t allow you to engage with this content underneath it, that would be considered a modal. Generally, most of the time, these aren’t a problem, unless they are something like spam, or advertising, or something that’s taking you out of the user experience.


Then finally, interstitials are essentially, and many of these can also be called interstitial experiences, but a classic interstitial is something like what does. When you visit Forbes, an article for the first time, you get this, “Welcome. Our sponsor of the day is Brawndo. Brawndo, it has what plants need.” Then you can continue after a certain number of seconds. These really piss people off, myself included. I really hate the interstitial experience. I understand that it’s an advertising thing. But, yeah, Google hates them too. Not quite enough to kick Forbes out of their SERPs entirely yet, but, fingers crossed, it will happen sometime soon. They have certainly removed plenty of other folks who have gone with invasive or overly heavy interstitials over the years and made those pretty tough.

What are the factors that matter for SEO?

A) Timing

Well, it turns out timing is a big one. So when the element appears matters. Basically, if the element shows up initially upon page load, they will consider it differently than if it shows up after a few minutes. So, for example, if you have a “Sign Up Now” overlay that pops up the second you visit the page, that’s going to be treated differently than something that happens when you’re 80% or you’ve just finished scrolling through an entire blog post. That will get treated very differently. Or it may have no effect actually on how Google treats the SEO, and then it really comes down to how users do.

Then how long does it last as well. So interstitials, especially those advertising interstitials, there are some issues governing that with people like Forbes. There are also some issues around an overlay that can’t be closed and how long a window can pop up, especially if it shows advertising and those types of things. Generally speaking, obviously, shorter is better, but you can get into trouble even with very short ones.

B) Interaction

Can that element easily be closed, and does it interfere with the content or readability? So Google’s new mobile guidelines, I think as of just a few months ago, now state that if an overlay or a modal or something interferes with a visitor’s ability to read the actual content on the page, Google may penalize those or remove their mobile-friendly tags and remove any mobile-friendly benefit. That’s obviously quite concerning for SEO.

C) Content

So there’s an exception or an exclusion to a lot of Google’s rules around this, which is if you have an element that is essentially asking for the user’s age, or asking for some form of legal consent, or giving a warning about cookies, which is very popular in the EU, of course, and the UK because of the legal requirements around saying, “Hey, this website uses cookies,” and you have to agree to it, those kinds of things, that actually gets around Google’s issues. So Google will not give you a hard time if you have an overlay interstitial or modal that says, “Are you of legal drinking age in your country? Enter your birth date to continue.” They will not necessarily penalize those types of things.

Advertising, on the other hand, advertising could get you into more trouble, as we have discussed. If it’s a call to action for the website itself, again, that could go either way. If it’s part of the user experience, generally you are just fine there. Meaning something like a modal where you get to a website and then you say, “Hey, I want to leave a comment,” and so there’s a modal that makes you log in, that type of a modal. Or you click on an image and it shows you a larger version of that image in a modal, again, no problem. That’s part of the user experience.

D) Conditions

Conditions matter as well. So if it is triggered from SERP visits versus not, meaning that if you have an exclusionary protocol in your interstitial, your overlay, your modal that says, “Hey, if someone’s visiting from Google, don’t show this to them,” or “If someone’s visiting from Bing, someone’s visiting from DuckDuckGo, don’t show this to them,” that can change how the search engines perceive it as well.

It’s also the case that this can change if you only show to cookied or logged in or logged out types of users. Now, logged out types of users means that everyone from a search engine could or will get it. But for logged in users, for example, you can imagine that if you visit a page on a social media site and there’s a modal that includes or an overlay that includes some notification around activity that you’ve already been performing on the site, now that becomes more a part of the user experience. That’s not necessarily going to harm you.

Where it can hurt is the other way around, where you get visitors from search engines, they are logged out, and you require them to log in before seeing the content. Quora had a big issue with this for a long time, and they seem to have mostly resolved that through a variety of measures, and they’re fairly sophisticated about it. But you can see that Facebook still struggles with this, because a lot of their content, they demand that you log in before you can ever view or access it. That does keep some of their results out of Google, or certainly ranking lower.

E) Engagement impact

I think this is what Google’s ultimately trying to measure and what they’re trying to essentially say, “Hey, this is why we have these issues around this,” which is if you are hurting the click-through rate or you’re hurting pogo-sticking, meaning that more people are clicking onto your website from Google and then immediately clicking the Back button when one of these things appears, that is a sign to Google that you have provided a poor user experience, that people are not willing to jump through whatever hoop you’ve created for them to get access your content, and that suggests they don’t want to get there. So this is sort of the ultimate thing that you should be measuring. Some of these can still hurt you even if these are okay, but this is the big one.

Best practices

So some best practices around using all these types of elements on your website. I would strongly urge you to avoid elements that are significantly harming UX. If you’re willing to take a small sacrifice in user experience in exchange for a great deal of value because you capture people’s email addresses or you get more engagement of other different kinds, okay. But this would be something I’d watch.

There are three or four metrics that I’d urge you to check out to compare whether this is doing the right thing. Those are:

  • Bounce rate
  • Browse rate
  • Return visitor rates, meaning the percentage of people who come back to your site again and again, and
  • Time on site after the element appears

So those four will help tell you whether you are truly interfering badly with user experience.

On mobile, ensure that your crucial content is not covered up, that the reading experience, the browsing experience isn’t covered up by one of these elements. Please, whatever you do, make those elements easy and obvious to dismiss. This is part of Google’s guidelines around it, but it’s also a best practice, and it will certainly help your user experience metrics.

Only choose to keep one of these elements if you are finding that the sacrifice… and there’s almost always a sacrifice cost, like you will hurt bounce rate or browse rate or return visitor rate or time on site. You will hurt it. The question is, is it a slight enough hurt in exchange for enough gain, and that’s that trade-off that you need to decide whether it’s worth it. I think if you are hurting visitor interaction by a few seconds on average per visit, but you are getting 5% of your visitors to give you an email address, that’s probably worth it. If it’s more like 30 seconds and 1%, maybe not as good.

Consider removing the elements from triggering if the visit comes from search engines. So if you’re finding that this works fine and great, but you’re having issues around search guidelines, you could consider potentially just removing the element from any visit that comes directly from a search engine and instead placing that in the content itself or letting it happen on a second page load, assuming that your browse rate is decently high. That’s a fine way to go as well.

If you are trying to get the most effective value out of these types of elements, it tends to be the case that the less common and less well used the visual element is, the more interaction and engagement it’s going to get. But the other side of that coin is that it can create a more frustrating experience. So if people are not familiar with the overlay or modal or interstitial visual layout design that you’ve chosen, they may engage more with it. They might not dismiss it out of hand, because they’re not used to it yet, but they can also get more frustrated by it. So, again, return to looking at those metrics.

With that in mind, hopefully you will effectively, and not too harmfully to your SEO, be able to use these pop-ups, overlays, interstitials, modals, and all other forms of elements that interfere with user experience.

And we’ll see you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.

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#18 – United Airlines offering you $10k, ESPN the worldwide leader in reputation, and what was thinking? 0

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We’re talking United Airlines, ESPN, and this week.

Each week, Erin Jones and I take a look at the most interesting reputation management stories, answer your questions, and share valuable ORM tactics. In this week’s episode:

  • United Airlines rolls out an impressive list of customer policy changes. Is it enough?
  • ESPN lays off 100+ people but still keeps its reputation in tact. We discuss how they did it.
  • decided it would be smart to sell customer data to Uber. Uber!

If you have a question you would like us to tackle, please leave a comment below or on my Facebook Page.

Transcript (forgive us for any typos):

Andy Beal: Welcome back, and we are talking about United Airlines again, but hopefully in a positive way. They’ve come out with their 10-point plan. Those of you who had tuned in a couple of weeks ago, you recall that they were going to put together a plan of how to ensure that basically they don’t beat up passengers going forward. They promised it by the end of the month, and they’re a few days early, and they’ve come out with this 10-point plan change to their customer policies to try and ensure that we’re all treated a little bit better.

Erin Jones is with me, and Erin’s had a chance to take a look at it. What jumps out at you, Erin, from this plan?

Erin Jones: You know, the first thing that I really liked seeing about this plan is that it doesn’t look like a fluff list to me. It looks like they came up with actionable items for this list that are measurable and that people can really count on for them to follow through with. I hope that they do follow through with it, you know, providing additional training annually. They didn’t just say, oh, well we’re going to do some training, but keep it really nebulous, they actually said we’re going to do this annually to enhance their skills and equip them for handling issues.

This is starting in August so I feel like they did a really good job of making sure that everything they put on this list was pretty clearly defined and something that can be acted upon.

Andy Beal: Yeah, I agree totally. In fact, it’s ashamed that we had to have a passenger get beaten up, but I think this is going to be really good for passengers going forward, and hopefully other airlines will adopt this. Just a few things that jumped out at me, and if in case you’ve not seen it. So basically, if you’ve already been seated, you won’t ever get booted now. They’re going to look for volunteers while you’re seated at the gate and not on the airplane. They’ve increased incentives to volunteer up to $10,000, and as Erin said, more training, more empowerment for the gate agents and flight attendants.

One of the things that really jumped out at me is the new check-in process. They’re actually going to start asking passengers, hey, if we need volunteers, are you interested, and if so, how much would you be looking to get from us in order to give up your seat? So that’s a great way to do it. Oh my gosh, you’re kind of almost … You’re gambling a little bit, but you can say, “Yeah, sure, you give me $3,000, and if you need a seat, I’ll give up my seat,” and then that allows almost like a blind auction for United to say, okay, well these five people that have offered to give up their seat, none of them know what each one wanted, but this guy only wanted $500, so hey, he’s the lucky winner.

Erin Jones: Yeah, and I love that if people … I’m hoping it will work in a way that if people are checking in from home or from their hotel, they may actually know that they’re being moved before they get all their stuff down to the airport and go through the hassle of getting down there.

It wasn’t really clear to me if it were the early online check-in or if it were when they were actually checking in at the airport.

Andy Beal: Yeah, they said either … I think it did allude to the fact that the option would be available from the app, which kind of implies that, like you said, if you checked in at the hotel, you’re getting ready to leave, and you say, hey, you want to give up your seat, and if United is going to do a better job of identifying that a plane is overbooked earlier and making sure their employees checked in earlier, they might have a better chance of actually saying, well in that case, hey, you just said you’d give up your seat. Stay where you are because we’re going to put you on the four o’clock flight, give you your $500, and there’s no need for you to rush to the airport right now.

Erin Jones: I think it’s a great idea, especially if I’m sitting at the beach, and they tell me I don’t have to leave the beach as early? I’m probably going to agree to do it.

Another thing I liked is that they’re looking at traditional re-booking numbers, the flights that people are less likely to agree to rebook on, and working to not oversell those specific flights. So my thought would probably be more the business commuter flights that they know these people are in a time crunch, and they need to get on their plane, they’re going to try not to oversell those flights as much, which I thought was a really good gesture as well.

Andy Beal: I agree, and you know, this is all positive stuff for United. It doesn’t take away from the issue that we faced and the poor guy that got beaten up; however, going forward, hopefully they’re going to realize this is not just pandering to the public, but this is actually going to prevent them facing a similar reputation attack because one of the other things is they’re not going to use law enforcement to drag somebody off a plan unless they’ve done something wrong. In this case, they didn’t do something wrong, so going forward, hey, it’s a negotiation, it’s not being handcuffed and dragged and bloodied and whatever.

So hopefully they realize that this is not just a mea culpa of like, okay, we’re sorry and here’s the sentence that we’re going to impose on ourselves. This is all things that should really help United to have a better reputation going forward.

Erin Jones: Definitely. Also, for those of us who remember the United breaks guitar video, they made a baggage policy as well, so if they lose your bag, they’re automatically going to give you $1,500 for the bag and its contents. No questions. No haggling. I think that this is a really good way to get somebody who’s probably really, really upset to settle down a little bit and see that they’re doing their best to not lose bags because they don’t want to lose that $1,500, but if they do, they’re going to do what they can to make it right before it escalates.

Andy Beal: Now they may have come out with this policy maybe a day too soon, because also in the news, a giant bunny, like one of the largest in the world, died on a recent flight, and so they’re going to have to get through that.

So far, it doesn’t look like it’s as big of an issue because, as we said before, United has raised the bar on outrage so that apparently killing the loved pet is something that’s not worthy of everybody getting fired up over, but I think they’re probably going to have to go back and again, look at this and say, well, how do we treat pets going forward? How do we treat animals on our flights because yeah, somebody lost a valuable pet, and they need to take that into account going forward and do something for that.

Erin Jones: Agreed. I’ve heard that this is a problem on many airlines, that if the animal doesn’t fit under the seat in front of you in the cabin with you, that there’s a lot of distress that happens wherever they’re keeping the kennel, the animals.

Andy Beal: True. True, yeah.

Erin Jones: This is something that I know a lot of animal rights people would like to see changed, that they’ve been working on for years, so maybe this is newsworthy enough that United and other airlines will look at how they’re transporting animals as well.

Andy Beal: Right. I mean, they can’t even promise that human passengers are going to make it safely to their destination without getting hurt, so I think for the time being, stay away from any kind of shipment of pets or valuable animals like that, and just not. So let’s move on. I think-

I want to talk a little bit about ESPN because they had another round of layoffs. I think they had some a couple of years ago, but they had over a hundred people laid off, most of which were front-facing journalists and anchors and people that you would actually see on the your TV screen.

What was really interesting to me, Erin, is that pretty much to a person, well, I didn’t see any, no negativity from those laid off. No attacks, no criticism. Everybody praised ESPN as an employer. It’s probably got a lot to do with great working conditions that they had there, and then also it looks like they were all getting great severance packages, so there’s a lot to be learned here just from how you can handle layoffs and do the right thing.

Erin Jones: I agree. This has been fascinating to watch. There have been no diva moments. There have been no screaming and outrage trying to slam ESPN. Are we growing up as … Is our Twitter culture growing up a little bit in realizing it’s okay to be gracious? I don’t know.

Andy Beal: Well. Okay, so let’s examine it, right? If you think about it, I would like to think that ESPN just had a really good culture and took really good care of their employees. Let’s hope that that’s the case, right?

However, you could look at this from a personal reputation perspective, and those that are getting laid off, if you start attacking your previous employer when you’re a public figure, that kind of makes you somewhat toxic and perhaps Fox Sports or one of these other networks is going to say, you know, you kind of come with a little of baggage here, we don’t want to have that on our payroll.

So by being upbeat and positive and not criticizing ESPN, whether intentionally or not, I wonder if some people are just saying, hey, I want to make sure I look attractive to the next employer?

Erin Jones: I really hope so. It was really refreshing to read through some of these posts and see a lot of the angers and the people that got laid off were really happy for the experience that they were given with ESPN and that they’re looking forward to using it in their further ventures. It was just really nice. It was so different than so much of the climate that we’ve been seeing online and in the news lately that it just felt really refreshing to me.

Andy Beal: Right. And it doesn’t have to be a large company like ESPN. You could be a small mom and pop shop with five to ten employees, and you can still handle a layoff in a positive way. I’ve had to let people go before, and I’ve done my best to say, hey, look, we’re going to give you 60 days’ notice, whatever time off you need to do for job interviews, whatever we can do to help, because just I know from experience that it’s important to not just cut people loose and say, okay, they’re done. that’s not going to hurt us, whatever. We have to lay people off.

But how you treat people when you let them go, that’s a critical time in your business’ reputation, because you do it the wrong way? They’re going to take to Twitter, social media, blog post, and they’re going to disparage you. You do it the right way, and you kind of look at this as in investment in your reputation, and so normally you think about giving a week or two week’s notice and that’s it. Think about, okay, let’s give them 30 days’, 60 days’ notice, even if they’re a contractor.

I’ve done this with contractors. It’s like okay, I’m going to give you 60 days’ notice. Even though you’re at 1099 contractor … Obviously, I don’t say that to them because I don’t want to … I love contractors. That’s the way to go. That’s for another story another time. But it’s like treat them that you would want to be treated, add a little bit extra, and you’re not going to have people all saying bad things about you. You’re going to have a situation like ESPN had where I believe they give them 60 days’ notice, job placement, whatever they needed, and look how well they came out as a public company with people with lots of followers and attention. They laid off over 100 people, and so far they’ve come up unscathed.

Erin Jones: I couldn’t agree more. You hear a lot about people getting laid off and they’re sent packing that afternoon with a box for reasons of company security, and all of a sudden this person who’s worked for you for 10 years is untrustworthy. Companies kind of are covering themselves, assuming the worst, and it doesn’t feel good either either party.

Andy Beal: True.

Erin Jones: So I agree, I think that mutual respect goes a long way, and I think in the broadcasting industry, it is a relatively small family, and it’s nice to see that they’re not just tossing them out in the cold, they’re still treating them with respect and dignity and wishing them the best on their way.

Andy Beal: Right. Right. Good stuff. All right, let’s finish up here with a company I had never heard of but is in the news for all the wrong reasons. It’s a company called, Unroll dot M-E. They’re an email decluttering service, help you kind of clean up your inbox and unsubscribe from stuff, keep it organized, that kind of stuff.

However, they were publicly busted, it you like. It came to light that they were selling anonymized receipts from people that used Lyft, the car service. They were anonymizing the information and then selling the data to Uber. So you’ve got people that are signed up for this service thinking that they’re getting, you know … Email is one of the most private things that we have. They think that they’re getting this service that is secure and private, and then find out that the data is getting sold to Uber, and of all the people to sell data to right now, Uber is not going to be the company that’s going to win you a lot of fans, right Erin?

Erin Jones: Exactly.

Andy Beal: So, I don’t know. The CEO came out and gave us standard non-apology which is like, he basically tried to hide behind the fact that buried in their terms and conditions was the condition that allows them to do this very thing.

But when you’re a company that’s providing this service, and certainly if it’s something like email or telephone or something private like that, your customers are not expecting you to sell that data on top anybody, anonymous or not. So, even if you have it in your terms and conditions, if it is something that is out of the ordinary, it’s going to come back to bite you whether you’ve technically covered your butt or not. This is the kind of stuff your customer base was not expecting, and so now is in all kinds of trouble and getting attacked by lots of their customers.

Erin Jones: And let’s be honest. When you give your customer base the standard “sorry, not sorry” response, and then turn around and say that you’re heartbroken that your customers are unhappy and upset, which is it? Are you not really sorry or is your heart breaking here because you already lost the trust of your users, and now you sound insincere.

Andy Beal: Right. Yeah, because if you were really that worried and upset about it, you wouldn’t do the practice in the first place, right? It’s like, well, how sincere are you when you were collecting money or … I’m assuming they paid for this service. I’ve never used it. But then selling the data at their backend. You have to be transparent in things like that because it’s just something that your customer’s not going to expect.

So if you have something in your service, if you provide a product and there is something that goes on that could potentially come back to hurt you, something that wouldn’t be expected by your customer base, you do have to be more upfront and let them know that this is what we do, but in a way that balances against all the benefits that you provide. And heck, explain that you anonymize the data. Explain that no one will ever know that it is your specific receipt that you aggregate the numbers and it can ever be tracked back to you, because there are plenty of companies out there that do something similar.

When I’m using Google, they’re looking at all of my practices and targeting ads towards me, but the advertisers never specifically know it’s me that’s being targeted, and I’m fine with that. But if I woke up and discovered that I thought that my inbox was completely secure, but then I find out that my data is being sold in the backdoor, I would be upset too.

Erin Jones: It sounds terrifying when you hear it that way. You hear, “My data’s being sold,” and most users don’t know what extend the data’s being utilized for. They don’t know that it’s made anonymous.

One thing I really like to tell people when I’m talking to them about social media is if you don’t pay for a service with money, you’re very likely paying with something else. Usually it’s going to be your user data.

A lot of us in the industry expect that and we know it, but people don’t realize it when they’re signing up for something like this because they think it’s cool, new service, or even those silly quizzes on Facebook or free apps. There’s a reason they’re giving you something to entertain you for free. They’re not getting nothing out of this, and it’s usually not just for them to serve ads anymore. There’s huge money in data mining.

Andy Beal: Yeah. There’s a book on the topic. I can’t remember the name of it, but basically I can condense the book down for you to probably one sentence, and that is if you are not paying for a product, you are the product.

Erin Jones: Exactly.

Andy Beal: You don’t pay for Facebook? You’re the product because your data-

Erin Jones: You’re paying.

Andy Beal: Yeah, exactly because all your information is being sold to advertisers and who knows what else, but if you’re not paying for a product, then sorry, you are the product and you should really lower your expectations because companies have to make money.

Now, sometimes they do the right thing, and sometimes they’re hoping you’ll upgrade to a paid product, but a lot of times, you should assume that if you’re getting something for free, it’s rarely ever for free.

Erin Jones: No, I mean, look at the … On a really basic example of a grocery store member cards that a lot of us use to get discounts. They’re not doing that just to give you a discount. They want to know what people are buying, how often, how much of.

I had a crazy experience yesterday. I went and bought a bag of puppy food at PetSmart. I haven’t bought puppy food in a decade. I put in my little user number to get my points, and by the time I got home, I had an email that said, “Congratulations on your adorable new puppy. Here are five coupons for puppy items.”

Andy Beal: Wow.

Erin Jones: I do this for a living, and it scared me a little bit. They’re on the ball, and I really wasn’t expecting it. Since then, I’ve gotten two more emails. One about training services, and one about the essentials that you might need and some recommendations because you haven’t had a puppy in a long time.

Andy Beal: Right.

Erin Jones: It’s great marketing but they got … They’re getting the info.

Andy Beal: It is, right? Yeah. A lot of these rewards programs, things like that, yeah, you’re getting something back because they’re taking that data and … One of the things I like to do if I sign up for something free is Gmail lets you customize your email address. I can’t remember the exact, but it’s something like Andy Beal and then you do the plus sign and then you can do whatever you want and just use whatever your normal email is, and it’ll work. It’ll come through to you. But it’ll come through to you as

So if you’re signing up for a service and you’re worried about your data being sold? Go ahead and just add something like that to your email address, and then you’ll be able to keep track of, wait a minute, that email address is being used right now by some random spam that I’m getting. Hey, guess what? They just sold your email address to some partner that they have. It’s a good way to kind of flush out those unscrupulous companies that are taking your information and then selling it all without your permission or maybe hiding it in their terms and conditions like did.

Erin Jones: Right. Another easy way to do it is when they ask for your name, put a different first name in.

Andy Beal: Oh, yeah.

Erin Jones: You can see right away in their form letter, it says, “Hi Fred,” and I go that’s interesting. The only person I told my name was Fred to was Facebook.

Andy Beal: There you go.

Erin Jones: So yeah, couple little tricks to see who’s sending what where. And most of us are willing to pay the price. I want a 50% discount on my crackers this week so you can tell the manufacturer that I bought their crackers, sure.

Andy Beal: Good advice. All right, well that’s consumer shopping advice from myself and Fred.

Andy Beal: On that note, we’ll wrap it up. Thank you all for listening. We hope you’ll leave us a comment or a question either on the blog post or head to Facebook, @AndyBealORM. We appreciate you listening.

And Erin, it’s a pleasure as always. Thank you for joining me again this week.

Erin Jones: Thank you for having me back.

Andy Beal: We’ll be back again at some point, usually weekly unless we get so busy that we kind of have to skip it, but we appreciate you guys sticking with our crazy scheduling, tuning in anyway, and we look forward to chatting with you again.

Thanks a lot and bye-bye.

The post #18 – United Airlines offering you $10k, ESPN the worldwide leader in reputation, and what was thinking? appeared first on Andy Beal .

Source: Andy Beal

The Reputation Challenge of Telecom: Shielding the Intangible 0

The Telecom Industry has gone through a profound transformation in the last 30 years, evolving from basic communications to an ever-present companion operating across a multitude of channels. Developments such as the introduction of fiber-optics, the advancement of mobile telephony and the arrival of the Internet have allowed telecommunications companies (telcos) to play a functional role in our daily lives while building enormous wealth, a fact made evident by the current market capitalization of the 10 largest telcos in the world.


Top 10 telecommunication companies in order of value (2016): AT&T, Verizon Communications Inc., China Mobile Ltd., Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp., Deutsche Telekom AG, SoftBank Group Corp., Vodafone Group plc, America Movil SAB de CV, China Telecom Corporation Limited, Telefónica SA




Source: Statistia, Reputation Institute 2017

The Growing Value of Intangibles

Telcos transitioned long ago from the time when their value (and identity) was determined by the cables, wires and other tangible assets they owned. Today, these firms possess full-fledged brands that convey a wide array of meanings to the public. “Who you are” is becoming more important than “what you have.”


The Most Reputable Telcos in the World

The Telecom Industry has been challenged in recent years by the public’s critical view of it. Reputation Institute’s syndicated research shows that the industry has a weak standing among the public across 19 countries.


Only two telcos have a strong reputation in their home markets: Swisscom (Switzerland) and United Internet (Germany). Thirty-nine of the 59 telcos evaluated suffered from weak reputations last year, indicating the industry’s current state of trust.

The factors contributing to this lack of trust include the following:

  • Doubts regarding openness and transparency in how telcos conduct business
  • Lack of knowledge about how telcos positively affect the environment and support good causes
  • Uncertainty about how telcos treat their employees

Reputation Institute’s tracking of telcos over the last seven years shows that, for the industry to improve its reputation, it should concentrate on accomplishing the following:

  • Building and maintaining a strong product portfolio that focuses on customer needs and satisfaction
  • Conveying an image of fairness and openness in operations and ensuring that customers know their personal information is being protected and used ethically
  • Demonstrating the positive influence telco companies have on society by supporting efforts to protect the environment and, in doing so, their employees

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Who are the most reputable companies in the world? Download the full 2017 Global RepTrak® 100.

Source: Reputation Institute