Admittedly, my profession, Public Relations has a slightly different relationship to the business world than other professions. Quite simply: it is called The Method That Works. This means precisely that through years of empirical experience talking and emailing with the major TV producers and news writers and editors in America and other countries around the world, I am always myself and I am always nice. Now, nice is a word that flies in the face of business writing that invokes Satan or evil entities as a matter of making a point. But I don’t care about posing or posturing. My own identity is my signature card and it is respected.
Which brings us to a simple quote about Karma from the legendary Lord Buckley, a comic monologist who influenced everyone from Lenny Bruce to every comedian working today. He once said in Jazz Lingo: “The Bad Stuff that A Cat Blows, Will Wail Long After He Has Cut Out!”. Obviously meaning, the smoke cloud of deliberate meanness and pettiness that you evoke, lingers and lingers and soon it is all that is known of you.
If that sounds dire or cautionary, I am actually writing this piece to announce something good and grand. The web hosting site that damaged my business has already received their comeuppance and their Bad Karma like a lightning boomerang heading straight for their business and already coming back to hurt them.
For those who read my “Starship” column about how the web hosting company is refusing to be paid by me so that I can continue with them and not be offline for three weeks–which is hurting my clients as a direct result of their Bad Business, this is the desired denouement and this is how it always works for Bad Companies who do Bad Business. Please read my previous column and learn what has happened up to now.
So, yesterday, I once again got on the phone with this company, and a light bulb sparked over my head when one of their lackeys had the gall to say to a six-year customer of this company, “All we care about is your four digits!!!!!” Period. Meaning the last four digits of the expired and no-longer existent debit card that I had used to re-up with this company two years ago. It is funny that one of the big movie ads right now is “I AM NUMBER FOUR”, and here they are asking for four. Does this mean that they are a Dystopian or Communist Company and that my years of paying them and being a good customer amounts to naught, because I am not a human being customer, but a series of digits? Yes, that IS the message that they telling me; that is most exactly it! Large Corporations think that they can set policies that are beyond the human scope and that they are so big they will never fall on the sword of these policies. In other words, one of the Business problems of today is exactly that corporations think they are Gadhafi or Hussein or communist bailiwicks where only their nonsensical and inhuman diktats rule, and unfortunately most people go along with it. There are not many Rosa Parkses out there who are tired of sitting on the back of the Corporate Nonsense Bus. But, if we don’t remind companies that they are not above the law, they will continue their destructive behaviors toward you, the consumer.
Now how the electric boomerang of Karma comes in is this simple. In the world of PR, being a known entity who always works hard to find the exact, expert fit for a magazine article or a TV appearance, I am known to the top producers at shows such as Oprah and writers at venues such as The New York Times and Parade magazine. Often times, out of the blue: the top talk shows and news shows in America, or the most-read papers in America will call me with a request to find something special for them, because they know I have a huge data base of ex-clients and current clients and just plain people that I know who can provide the knowledge on a certain subject.
Here is an example or two. Not long ago, a gentleman whom I had helped try to sell  his travel books to publishers, landed a travel column with The New York Times and called me in need of unique travel stories. I happened to know two people with interesting travel stories: Scott Rosenfelt, the line producer of John Hughes’ movie “Home Alone” , who is always mistaken for Billy Joel when he travels; and Ana Forrest, a Yoga expert, who designed a series of exercises that you can do within the confines of your airplane seat so that your body remains loose and relaxed while traveling. Because of their kindness to me down the years, Scott and Ana popped right into my mind and both of their stories made it into The New York Times, in a symmetry where the writer was satisfied, the editors were satisfied, the public was satisfied and where both Scott and Ana now had memorable milestones for their legacy: being immortalized in The New York Times. This is what happens because of Nice.
Now, this is an ongoing process that will happen again and again with my media contacts. It is The Karma of PR that often breaks more newsworthy stories in a year than Woodwards and Bernsteins do in a lifetime! Laugh, but it is true. Having worked together forming bonds of trust and taste and decorum; media people will call me again and , and someone nice will come to my mind and be immortalized. Now, with the Laws of Balance that American Philosopher William James talked about in the 1800’s, by the same token: this process will happen with this web hosting company, but of course in reverse.
And strangely, this is the lesson that Large Businesses must learn the Hard Way: That there is no such thing as any customer being JUST a number, and that every bad and hurtful thing that they do to one customer is defeated by the Second Law of PR: Which of course is: Always Create Good Word of Mouth For Yourself, Never Create Bad Word Of Mouth For Yourself.
This company could have treated me like a human being whose payments and loyal customer dedication had created a relationship they valued; but at no point in our conversations on the phone was that either company policy or even lackey-on-the-phone behavior. I was treated rudely and condescendingly, for no positive purpose for them and for no apparent business gain for them. They, like major corporations, feel “We have enough customers, we’ll get more: If someone doesn’t like our policy, that is that.” Without ever even realizing what my website that they were hosting was about: The website’s message is that by joining a circle of people who live to do business where the win-wins bring you gains you never dreamed of, you are established in business for life. One bad word of mouth might bring you down and one good word of mouth might make a sea-change in the public perception of you and the amount of customers you draw!
So, this web hosting company, being ignorant and willfully uncaring about my business, has inspired me to let the world know how rancid an operation they have: and the incredible rudeness and thuggery of the way I have been treated on the phone. Needless to say, they blew it. One day, I will get a call, perhaps from the The Oprah Show, perhaps from The New York Times asking if I know of a good web hosting company. My answer will be “No, I don’t.” And this company, that has proven itself a lousy and poorly run company, will deservedly never get that chance to increase their earnings by millions or more.
That is simply PR Lesson  # 2.
Author: Tom Brennan has been at the center of some of the biggest stories of the last decade, and at the center of launching some of the biggest trends that remain popular and viable. He is based in Santa Monica, Ca. and is reachable at [email protected]