Friday, July 9, 2010


This week's perspective from Joe Chidley:

He might be halfway out the door, but Toronto Mayor David Miller still seems to be on the job. When the Great Blackout of 2010 (all two hours of it!) hit the Big Smoke this week, elevator service in buildings throughout the downtown core went down, forcing office workers to use the stairs. But that wouldn’t work for 26-year-old Joel Dembe, a marketing analyst in the TD Bank Tower on King Street – because he’s in a wheelchair. Stranded on an upper floor, Dembe got on Twitter and tweeted his frustration to no less a personage than the mayor of the city. And then the surprising thing: Miller tweeted right back, asking Dembe for his cell phone number, and then following up with a call within 15 seconds. Miller spoke with Dembe for about five minutes, asking whether he was all right and putting him in touch with the fire department. Granted, Dembe acknowledges he was never in an emergency: a freight elevator eventually showed up and took him downstairs. But Miller’s prompt reply surprised and gratified him—along with the rest of Toronto, especially after the Good Samaritan social media play hit the airwaves and the press. What stands out about this is not just that it was a remarkable act of decency (Dembe called it “pretty insane.”); it was also great customer service. Think about it: in the communications world, we like to talk about social media as a great way to get our message out there and change minds. Fact is, avenues like Twitter and Facebook can have real and concrete applications—like really helping people—that will do as much if not more for your brand than online games or hip tweets. Creative organizations (like online shoe and merchandise retailer Zappos) get this, and it’s nice to see at least one politician does, too.

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