Dorothy Crenshaw December 22, 2011 | 04:12:03

Well-Handled: FedEx Delivers On "Apology PR"

Talk about heavy lifting. Pity the communications pros at FedEx. At the height of the holiday season, when the company wants to focus on its state-of-the-art technology and customer service prowess, it’s the recipient of an unwelcome holiday gift – a viral video that threatens real damage to its brand.

One careless employee and 20 seconds – caught on camera – is all it takes these days. The video in question shows a FedEx delivery person heaving a computer monitor over a resident’s gate rather than taking an extra minute to ring the bell. The package toss instantly lit up Twitter and soon had mainstream media buzzing. At over four million views so far, it gives new meaning to the term “special delivery.”

Now, this isn’t the first time FedEx employees have been caught manhandling bags – a casual browse through YouTube can attest to that. But this mis-delivery was very clearly at a residence (where the recipient was at home and watching.) Combine that with a  slow news week and the rapidly growing social Web, and it adds up to real PR baggage.

To its credit, FedEx dropped everything – in a good way – to respond to the mini-crisis. It fast-tracked a video apology from operations executive Matthew Thornton in which Thornton vows to redouble efforts to regard each delivery as “precious cargo” and make the incident a “learning experience” for the company. The script is a bit stilted, but he’s credible and appropriately concerned.

FedEx tells us that the situation’s been handled. It has shipped out the sloppy employee (to a warehouse, apparently) and replaced the customer’s monitor. It then takes the opportunity to restate its corporate values, which is a savvy PR move.

Good job, FedEx. In a few weeks, with some luck, a kinder, gentler FedEx will emerge and the package panic will be relegated to the crisis PR archives, indexed under “well handled.” In the meantime, keep on truckin.’

4 thoughts on “Well-Handled: FedEx Delivers On "Apology PR"

  1. Ha! Very funny post. Actually, if you go on YouTube you’ll see LOTS of packages being tossed out of trucks…almost like it’s a sport! It’ll be interesting to see if FedEx can actually institutionalize the “precious cargo” ethic.
    I agree, though, that the PR response was well done (and swift, which is half the battle.)

  2. In these days when it’s easy to see how the overnight shipping business can be severely stressed by competition from online alternatives and secure document signing technology, it’s damn smart of FedEx to protect their core business so intelligently. Maybe it’s just good PR, but I feel a lot more secure sending something FedEx today than I did 15 years ago.

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