Canadian Interview: Keith McArthur

Keith McArthur, senior director of social media and digital communications, spoke to PRWeek about how Rogers is improving its online communications, particularly as it relates to consumer complaints.

When Rogers Communications recruited Keith McArthur into the new role of senior director of social media and digital communications, outside observers agreed it was about time. Just last summer, Rogers faced a consumer backlash against its iPhone pricing that gained massive momentum online. Now after two months into his new gig, McArthur—formerly the senior director of media innovation at Veritas Communications and a reporter for The Globe and Mail—spoke to PRWeek about how Rogers is improving its online communications, particularly as it relates to consumer complaints.
Coming in, what challenges (and opportunities) did you see?

There aren't many Canadian companies with a more prominent online profile than Rogers. And the tone of those conversations isn't always positive, which is something we share with other companies in the telecom space.  That's a terrific challenge. But the opportunities for using social media to build our brand, strengthen our communications and improve our relationships with customers are also immense. As an organization, we're committed to improving the customer experience and social media is an important part of how we're going to do that.
Tell us a bit about some of the work you've been doing.  

Listening to the online conversations about your brand is the best place to start, so we're doing a lot of that. And we're slowly starting to join the conversation when it's appropriate for us to be there. As an example, we're experimenting with helping customers who are blogging or Twittering about a negative customer experience and helping them to solve their problems. The preliminary results have been very positive. Our customers are telling us they feel validated by the fact that we're listening, especially if we're able to help them solve their problems. But there are plenty of exciting projects in the works—for both internal and external communications.

Why is online monitoring and measuring so important?

Brands have the ability to know what people are saying about them and their competitors, what they like about us and what the hot button issues are. And the things that upset or excite people aren't always what we think they're going to be. A company that's not monitoring its online reputation is at a serious disadvantage in the marketplace.  

You're a prolific blogger. What have you learned about blogging? Will we see Rogers executives jump into the blogosphere?
I started blogging for The Globe and Mail in 2005 and the experience helped me realize that social media would fundamentally and permanently alter the communications landscape. Being able to engage in a conversation with readers was a magical thing for a reporter who was used to the one-to-many broadcast model. The more I learned about social media, the more I wanted to be doing it instead of just writing about it. As for corporate blogging at Rogers, that's definitely a possibility. Executive blogs are great for internal communications and some execs do a great job of using them externally, too. So that's something we're considering, but that's just one way for us to be part of the conversation.

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