The trend word of Portuguese Twitter and Facebook community is, since yesterday, #Ensitel.
Ensitel is a French company operating in Portugal that sells cell phones and it’s an authorized seller for Nokia equipments. A non satisfied customer, who happens to be a well-know blogger and runs the social community of one of the Portuguese most used internet provider wrote some blog posts about a specific situation of a defective equipment bought at their shop and how the complaint hasn’t been solved to the outmost customer’s satisfaction on a direct approach. Ensitel didn’t appreciate the blog posts and asked her to delete them, which she denied. Ensitel then sued the customer and won on court (*). Almost two years later, the customer receives again a legal intimation to delete the posts from the blog. The situation is, since yesterday, widely spread on a social movement against the company and instead of being erased, the post are now being reposted all over.
My point of view
The problem now is not only the situation itself with the defective cell phone. Now, people are talking about freedom of speech and the rights of the bloggers to express their personal opinions. Fake pages are already created and the public image of Ensitel is being damaged. Nokia itself should take care of the association of their name to this case.
Apart the specific situation, the main problem with this huge big social noise against the company should be searched in a deeper root. In my opinion, the problem is that the words Public Relations are applied, in Portugal, only to events management like VIP parties and big companies’ publicity events, and not to the main role of the PR: helping an organization to create a strong relationship with their customers. I specifically like this definition of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA): “Public relations helps an organization and its public adapt mutually to one another.”
It seems to me that Portuguese companies and Portuguese Public Relations are not prepared to run public crisis. They’re not ready to deal with social media communications either, especially when the words are not positive. Ensitel is not a Portuguese company but the insignia is operating in the local market.
What did Ensitel apparently do? Apparently, they started deleting the negative posts on their own page. Worst thing however is that several different people (but apparently under the same IP address…!) used Comments, on the unsatisfied customer’s blog, to leave aggressive comments on her posts about Ensitel. I’d say this wasn’t clever at all! But most of all, Ensitel compromised its own public image when it sued the customer with the purpose of forcing her to delete the posts about the company. Now the issue ran out of their control since everybody started to tweet about it and to re-blog it or leaving comments on their Facebook page.
A lot is yet to improve in Portugal in what Public Relations and Social Communication is concern. This current movement against Ensitel will surely become a case-study. Let’s see how their PR (if they even have one, which I doubt) will come out to deal with it. At first rang, they’re late!
If you want to follow this discussion, read @jonasnut ‘s blogposts Take 1 + Take 2 + Take 3 + Take 4 + Take 5 + Take 6 , follow #Ensitel at Twitter or their official Facebook page and also their “fake” page named “I will never again buy whatsoever at Ensitel” here .
I also search the Ensitel site here but found nothing about this discussion, so I’m unable to share their point of view.
I’m following this case with curiosity. Public Relations has always been an interesting topic to me. If you are a PR, feel free to leave your comment.
29thDec2010, 01h25m: (*) Some readers corrected this information and I agree with them, so I aknowledge corrections as below:
Your report of the case isn’t entirely correct. The company didn’t sue the blogger because of the posts at the time. The blogger tried on multiple ocasions to return the cell phone, and the company refused every time. The matter then went to court and it ruled in favour of the company. That was almost 2 years ago. The posts were made at the time the situations occured.
Now, after all this time the company has sued the blogger, trying to get a court order to delete the posts.
It is this attempt to silence free speech that has caused all this PR mess.
Two years ago they were at court due to the telephone problem, not for the posts on the blog. It was for that situation that the user lost in court. Only now, 2 years later, did Ensitel complained and sued about the blog posts.