Jay Baer
Jay Baer

Jay Baer, who touts the importance of customer service, told PRSA Oct. 10 that word-of-mouth is the key to business success.

Baer, author of Hug Your Haters, said companies must go to extra, memorable lengths to show their customers that they value them.

As an example, he notes that Cheesecake Factory, a chain of 208 restaurants, takes many steps to make its customers feel welcome.

He said it has become “an institution in American dining” despite spending less on ads than competitors because it makes dining at one of its outlets “an unparalleled experience that people can tell their friends about.”

Hug Your Haters by Jay Baer

“The portions are enormous, the menus are 5,490 words long and the restaurants offer 43 different types of cheesecake,” he said. There are also 250 other menu items.

“Customers naturally spread the word themselves,” said Baer, adding: “We trust real people so much more than we trust companies.”

Companies Faulted; PR Must Lead

Companies claim to understand the importance of customer service, but according to Baer, “only one percent of all businesses have a real strategy in place to help foster it.”

PR people must “take the lead and create strategic differentiators that compel word-of-mouth,” he advised. 

He proscribed “talk triggers” such as “talkable empathy, talkable usefulness, talkable generosity, talkable attitude and talkable speed.”

Baer, as one of his techniques to be memorable, often uses suits with “eye-catching patterns.”

For his talk to the PRSA conference, he had a purple checked jacket and light purple button-down shirt. His business card also functions as a bottle-opener.

Golfers and others tell him they keep the card in their golf bags and on their boats.

“Make people talk about your brand, I dare you to be different,” said Baer. “ Being different is the secret recipe that will get you new clients.”

The PRSA conference in Boston ended yesterday but a blackout continues on what happened at the Assembly Saturday, Oct. 7.

Rudeness, Non-Communication at PRSA

While Baer’s advice to the conference seemed very reasonable, the behavior of leaders of PRSA is the opposite of that.

The press is by tradition and logic the main audience of PR people but PRSA staff, elected officers, section officers and committee heads are often rude and unhelpful to reporters.

There was no physical press room at the conference and the online “newsroom” only had news of four awards given to members.

Basic knowledge is regularly denied to members. As of today, seven days after the governing Assembly, there is no report to members or the press on what happened to four proposals that were made to the Assembly including one that would insert “communications” throughout the bylaws.

Society leaders such as Prof. Don Wright of Boston University and Prof. Tina McCorkindale, who were among the 1,200 registrants, have refused to help this reporter find out what happened at the Assembly.

Members Kept in Dark

Failing to inform members about important developments is the opposite of the user-friendly policy advised by Baer.

Responsibility for the Society’s governance is shifting to Prof. Anthony D’Angelo who is director of communications management and teaches PR at the Newhouse School, Syracuse University. 

He does not return emails sent by the O’Dwyer Co.

Five delegates representing the New York chapter were present but refuse to provide any report to this website.

Chapter president Olga Gonzalez said she “believed national has been in contact with members regarding the Assembly” but there is no evidence of that. She said she would only handle questions about the chapter, saying we should contact national which has not responded to us in more than 20 years.

There is nothing on the chapter website about what happened at the Assembly.

The April 21-22, 2017 board meeting of national said the meeting discussed “the status of the engagement with Jack O’Dwyer” but gave no details. That was a false statement because there is no “engagement” with this reporter, only a boycott.