Netflix: A Case Study in How NOT to Do PR

Netflix just can’t seem to get it in their collective noggins that you should not promise products and keep backing out of them.

On the heels of the much-publicized–and widely scoffed at–price hike and Qwikster fiascos (for more info on the Qwikster PR disaster, check out this post at Slate), Netflix seems to have abandoned another promised product line: game rentals.

Not adding game rentals is not the disaster here, although it will no doubt be a disappointment to many Netflix customers. The real issue is that Netflix is running the very real risk of becoming the firm that cried wolf. Whatever credibility it had regained in the months since the prior debacles will be further eroded by another promise gone begging.

The lesson for association PR managers in all this? It’s a classic, actually: under promise, over deliver. Publicizing a service or a product to members and then retracting it is much more damaging than simply waiting until the product is assured of implementation. In some cases, and especially if you are trying to recover from a prior “retraction problem,” it’s better to take a wait and see approach than to rush something out that you might have to renege on.

Here’s the HuffPost story talking about the game rental change in direction. Enjoy some Schadenfreude with your morning coffee.

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