It was abundant sitting bottomward with you on date at the DEMO appointment this week. We talked a bit about the challenges of your delinquent advance and the difficulties of applying your avant-garde collective-buying archetypal to small, bounded businesses. It was a affable chat, I accept — you alike joked about alms me a PR job. (Seriously, would you tech mogul bodies amuse stop poaching VentureBeat talent?)
As adulatory as the action was, I don’t anticipate I’m the man for the job. Like you, I adulation abundant writing, but I appetite to acquaint the adventure of technology and innovation, and there’s no bigger abode to do that than at VentureBeat. You do charge a abundant anchorperson in your camp, however.
I like how you’ve handled your PR crises to date. Responding to a decidedly comedic class-action accusation by suing yourself was a funny move. And your contempo blog column reacting to questions aloft about an action by an Atlanta-area photo studio, Dana Dawes Photography was cautiously written. You additionally accept a great, scrappy, and acceptable understaffed PR operation beneath Julie Mossler appropriate now. But as the aggregate of analytical belief and botheration deals rise, you’re activity to charge addition added accomplished to handle them.
You charge added than aloof a PR veteran, though. You charge addition who can amend your operations with attention Groupon’s accessible angel in mind. You afresh told me that you angle by the way you vet companies. Seven bodies at Groupon blow anniversary action afore it goes live. And yet you additionally accept affairs to rapidly access up the deals you accept on offer. Roughly 35,000 companies are cat-and-mouse in chain to action a Groupon.
As you abound the business and assignment through that backlog, botheration deals will become added and added visible. And as you’ve noted, back a business can’t handle the aggregate Groupon directs to it or barter accept added complaints, Groupon loses, too. As the aggregation introducing barter to a business, you’re activity to get bad PR on all sides.
Yelp and PayPal dealt with agnate issues in the aboriginal stages of their business — not successfully, I ability add. PayPal was besieged by lawsuits from affronted merchants and barter whose accounts were arctic for artifice investigations. And Yelp got austere bad fizz for the less-than-transparent way it displayed — or didn’t affectation — business reviews. Both companies accept recovered, but it’s adamantine to apperceive how abundant added acknowledged they ability accept been if they’d dealt with their angel problems added expeditiously.
Now’s the time to get advanced of the curve. It feels abhorrent to point out a botheration after alms a solution. And it’s bright that you anticipate the abstruse to Groupon’s success has added to do with bodies than technology.
So I accept the fix: Appoint Julie Anderson Ankenbrandt. Who’s that, you say? Ankenbrandt was an controlling at PayPal. She started out active accessible relations. But as PayPal’s operational snafus mounted, causing added and added PR crises, she accomplished that the best way to abode them was to fix the basal business problem. So she confused out to Omaha, Nebraska briefly to set up PayPal’s aboriginal customer-service center, a move that arguably adored the business from imploding beneath the weight of artifice investigations and chump complaints. She went on to advice advance PayPal through its IPO — a move that abounding accept speculated is aing up for your aggregation — and its accretion by eBay, a aggregation we’ve cited as a archetypal for your all-embracing growth.
I haven’t talked to Ankenbrandt in years. She confused from Silicon Valley to Denver several years ago and got a amount in accessible administering at the University of Colorado at Denver — a nice fit with your own amount in accessible policy. And, as it happens, her LinkedIn contour describes her as “emerging from hiatus.”
The fit seems perfect. You could appoint any cardinal of PR executives, but addition with Ankenbrandt’s operational experience, cardinal perspective, and acquaintance with a business that caters to baby merchants seems absolute for Groupon. I don’t apperceive if you’ll be able to get Ankenbrandt to aces up and move to Chicago. At the actual least, you should allocution about your accepted adventures — and anticipate about how to get addition with her affectionate of resume in your camp.
So I achievement that helps, Andrew. You assume aboveboard in your charge to abstain bad adventures by barter and merchants who use Groupon. And you’ve done appealing able-bodied ambience up boutique alfresco Silicon Valley. But I anticipate there’s a lot you can apprentice from tech’s adept veterans. Drop Ankenbrandt a line. And let me apperceive how it goes.
[photo by Stephen Brasher for DEMO]
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