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Hi, I’m Kevin Coupe and this is FaceTime with the Content Guy.
Michael Sansolo’s column this week focused on how movie industry executives. coming off a terrible summer in terms of box office receipts, are blaming the website Rotten Tomatoes for their woes. Rotten Tomatoes brings together all the reviews of major and minor critics ands makes them easily accessible to consumers, and executives apparently have decided that it is the access to crappy reviews that is turning people off movies, as opposed to the crappy movies that are in theaters.
Michael and I agree that this is symptomatic of a problem that afflicts a lot of businesses - fixing blame instead of fixing problems. It is, to be clear, exactly the wrong thing to do.
It’s a lot more fun to talk about people and companies that do the right thing. I loved Kate’s column this week about how boutique owners, recognizing that boutique owners in areas hit by hurricanes often go out of business because of the difficulty getting new merchandise, are helping their brethren get back on their feet. That’s an example of companies doing the right thing.
There also was a story in the Washington Post about how Tesla pushed a software update last week that increased the battery capacity of some of its battery powered cars; the update unlocks previously inaccessible battery power, allowing vehicles go farther on a single charge, which is important when you’re trying to evacuate. Again, the right thing to do.
There have been a lot of examples of companies doing the right thing over the past few weeks - especially in the retail community, where companies have donated money and man hours have done their best to keep communities afloat - pun intended - and make sure that people in trouble have access to the products and services they need.
The Puget Sound Business Journal has a story about how Starbucks not only closed hundreds of stores in areas affected by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, but also offered what it calls “catastrophic pay to its employees who can't work shifts due to store closures or an inability to make it to work. It also is expediting its CUP Fund grants, which are the company's Caring Unites Partners Fund grants.” The CUP Fund is described as “a way for employees to help other employees. They contribute to the fund, which is a financial assistance program started by workers in 1998 to help each other in times of need. The fund acts as a safety net for employees by providing monetary help following natural disasters or family emergencies.”
Again, all the right things to do … while simultaneously building community within the company.
Of course, there also have been examples of companies that have done the wrong thing, like the 7-Eleven franchisees in Florida accused of gouging customers for bottled water.
Or, there was the Pizza Hut manager in Florida who warned his employees that if they evacuated the state too early for his tastes, or returned too late, they’d be documented and could face disciplinary action. His instructions went directly against the recommendations of local authorities, and even the guidelines established by Pizza Hut corporate.
Or, how about the ship chartered by Marriott to help guests at its hotels on St. Thomas to get off the island after the airport closed? There was plenty of room to take hundreds of people off the island, but Marriott only would transport its own customers … or was only allowed to transport its own customers … depending on what version of the story you believe. It doesn’t really matter, though … somebody did the wrong thing, somebody could’ve done the right thing, and people were left stranded while a ship left port with hundreds of empty seats.
I always wonder to myself, what are these people thinking? Clearly, they’re not thinking about their customers or their employees, and they’re not even thinking about their brand equity or public image. They’re just thinking about themselves and the almighty buck.
By the way, having nothing to do with the storm, I keep running into businesses have have introduced a paid-time-off policy, in which vacation time and sick time are essentially combined, and, for example, if you get a bad case of the flu you end up being unable to take any sort of real vacation, or if you get the flu after you’ve been on vacation, well, you’d better come to work or you’re going to not be paid. This is how they treat full-time employees, and it makes absolutely no sense … your people either end up burned out from little time off, or coming to work sick and getting other people sick. It is called “PTO” in the trade, but I call it “BS” … the wrong thing to do, because it clearly establishes that you don’t give a damn about your people, only yourself.
There’s a lot of that going around. The good news is that there often is good news, and are good people, to compensate. Which reminds me of the lines from “A Man For All Seasons,” in which Thomas More, arguing that he must do the right thing even if it means going against a self-indulgent king who believes the law does not apply to him, says:
“If we lived in a State where virtue was profitable, common sense would make us good, and greed would make us saintly. And we'd live like animals or angels in the happy land that needs no heroes. But since in fact we see that avarice, anger, envy, pride, sloth, lust and stupidity commonly profit far beyond humility, chastity, fortitude, justice and thought, and have to choose, to be human at all ... why then perhaps we must stand fast a little --even at the risk of being heroes.”
That’s what is on my mind this morning. As always, I want to hear what is on your mind.
- KC's View: