Thursday, May 31, 2007
The Flea saga and WOM
I want to throw my hat into the whole Flea thing. From the perspective of a solo practitioner in the start-up, practice building phase, who depends on positive word of mouth for his own survival, Flea's saga is a public relations disaster. First, he was sued for wrongful death and that law suit became, because of his actions and his actions alone, a very, very, very public matter. Isn't it enough to get sued and have to defend yourself in court. Do you have to announce it to the entire world and give the Boston Globe or NY Times a story? Now everyone of his patients, their families, friends, and referring docs knows that he had a wrongful death. Not the kind of thing you want to actively publicise.
Second, as Eric Turkewics pointed out, he and the defense were caught trying to manipulate the jury. Now this may happen all the time, I don't know. But from a public relations perspective, it doesn't look good for Flea. People don't like to be manipulated and you don't want patients, their families, and referring doctors to think of you as a callous manipulator. Just my opinion.
Third, his entire chronicle of his lawsuit experience was just plain reckless, stupid, and disrespectful and suggests that Flea himself possesses those qualities. He may be a nice guy. I'm sure he is. But only several hundred people, at most, know him as the nice guy-good doc, while several million now know him as the big mouth, reckless, manipulating blogger. And thanks to the Boston Globe, and KevinMD, they know his name.
Word of mouth marketing is the most powerful form of marketing, and when positive, can really help build a practice. When negative, it can kill. I bet Flea's cost him the limits of his liability policy, and probably his practice.
I wish him luck, I really do. And if you are reading this blog, Flea, give me call and I'll help you start over in your new solo practice in your new locale.
Best of luck.