Message to TiVo: Turn Your PR Textbook to Page 1

So, a couple of days ago news breaks that TiVo will begin displaying logos and banner ads to viewers who fast forward through commercials.  Buzz about this has been predominantly negative (to say the least).  While more level heads may prevail and some may even decide it won’t be as bad as first suspected, shouldn’t TiVo have seen this coming?  TiVo customers are still early adopters – fanatics – people who use the word “love” to describe their state-of-the-art electronic devices.  This story should not have first come out in a newspaper, it should have been communicated directly and accurately to loyal TiVo customers through their TiVo devices.  It could have been a message from the president of the company to all of his customers explaining what they are planning, why and how it won’t suck.  Word would have spread like crazy (just as it did this way), but TiVo could have controlled the story and allied with its customers as opposed to letting them learn in the press about something that reads like a betrayal (even if in the end it may not be).  Instead, rumors are flying and how these banners and logos are really going to work is unclear.  What is clear is that TiVo customers are pissed (by what they’re hearing, even if it’s inaccurate) and confused.

To make matters worse, it’s now been two days since the story broke and nowhere on the TiVo website can I find word one about it.  Not on the I Have TiVo page.  Not on the Press Releases page.  Not on the TiVo in the News page.  Nowhere.  Come on!  This is PR 101.  Control your news story.  Even if they didn’t anticipate the backlash (which if they know their customers would not be possible), react swiftly and get out in front of it.  They need to talk to their customers and future customers and not let the negative buzz machine keep on chugging.  It’s now at the point where they probably need to put it on the homepage.