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Keep Your Customers Close and Your Competition Closer

You know that old axiom about keeping your friends close and your enemies closer? Well it’s cliché, but like most platitudes, it’s because it traditionally rings true. One avenue and strikingly underexplored method of social media marketing is the practice of keeping tabs on the competition; what they’re offering, where they’re excelling and – most importantly – where they’re failing. An example of online-publicity brilliance was executed by the travel agency, and it involved a shared-name, a competitor’s reluctance to honor a lofty request and a free trip to Paris.

Thomas Cook posted this comment on Thomas Cook Travel’s Facebook last year:

“Seeing as I share the exact same name as your huge company, and because of this I have been ridiculed for as long as I can remember. I think it’s only fair that you help compensate for this by giving me one of your lovely holidays.”

Thomas Cook Travel declined, initially chalking up the request as just e-snark. That’s where the PR people at lowcostholidays jumped in with the following reply to Thomas Cook (the person; this is understandably confusing):

Here at we completely sympathize with your suffering and if your name was “” we would certainly have accepted your request to be sent away on a weekend in Paris. So in Thomas Cook’s time of crisis we thought it was about time we stepped in to offer a helping hand to customers like yourself who have found themselves, as we like to say, ‘Thomas Crooked.’ So how about we send you on that weekend in Paris, in fact – why not make it a week for you and a friend?”

And with one message to one stranger sharing a name with a competitor, mastered the art of social media marketing. The story went viral throughout the online world, was a hit on Reddit, and brought scores of positive remarks from all angles. The company earned themselves a customer for life and potentially countless others who appreciated the offer they extended to Mr. Cook.

Keeping up with your competitors in the social media world is just as important as maintaining your own online presence. Monitoring those you battle for business allows you to keep your finger to the wind of trends and ensure you’re doing everything you can to sustain your client base. shelled out the expense for a weeklong trip for two to Paris, but earned themselves loads more in free publicity. By watching their competitor’s actions online they have become a household name; keep your customers close and the competition closer.

Carter Breazeale
PR/PR Public Relations

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