Last week AT&T responded to criticism about the delays the MMS service for IPhones, as well as the device’s network-hogging tendency by way of a “Seth the Blogger Guy” YouTube video. Views of that video topped 150,000. Seth’s travel tips this week garnered just 169.
In AdAge, sources panned it. Chris Brogan called it “ridiculously clinical” and suggested AT&T take a page from Comcast, and put a guy like Frank Ellison on the front lines. Except, Ellison does customer service with damage control as the side effect.
Jackie Huba called Seth “kind of a stooge” and suggested a heavier presence was needed, such as CEO Randall Stephenson.
The video wasn’t as awful as all of that and Seth’s response to PRNewser sheds some light on AT&T’s social strategy:
Seth is neither a blogger, nor does he work at AT&T. He’s just the face of the team doing the work.
Seth Bloom is in fact, an SVP at AT&T’s PR agency Fleishman-Hillard. He’s been on the account for eight years and has a deep knowledge of their business. However, it wasn’t as easy as it should be finding this out. Google searches turned up email addresses at both AT&T and Fleishman, and Seth’s colleague Susan Bean offered to talk about it, but by then my opportunity to post had passed.
More, including video, after the jump:
Bloom doesn’t blog–his Blogger Guy title is a misnomer. He’s the guy at Fleishman who deals with A-list bloggers on a daily basis. While many bloggers also panned the video, TechCrunch took their how-it-affects-TechCrunch tack and actually liked the strategy.
AT&T’s YouTube channel received 5 million views so far, with about half of the videos featuring Seth. They have a nice page that aggregates all of its social media efforts, as well as a microsite specifically for network issues.
The problem here isn’t so much PR as it is the nature of the business. AT&T, like Comcast, is a utility. It doesn’t inspire brand love and invokes vicious anger from consumers when something goes wrong, which inevitably does. I certainly don’t enjoy Comcast any more because of @ComcastCares, though it’s nice to know it’s there.
Watch the Seth response below, and let us know what you think: