Online Reputation Management Done Right: What CEOs Can Learn From Hulu’s Jason Kilar

Both Kyra and I are huge fans of Hulu, not just for their incredible content/player, but because they get it. Last week’s action by CEO, Jason Kilar is a primo example of why Hulu leads the pack in the premium online video space.

About ten days ago, without warning, Hulu yanked three season’s worth of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. The response was flame-broiled. Some fans were angry at Hulu for interrupting their barreling process (consuming several episodes at once in an attempt to catch up to the current season, usually upon discovering a new favorite show). Others blamed the site erroneously for, in reality, it was FX’s decision.  As resentment grew, so did the number of negative comment and tweets.

Anyone know a good place to watch it? Once upon a time there was a cool website called ‘Hulu’. Shift+Delete from list of favorites. –1muddytruck

This was the reason I cam to the site. Now it’s gone. 5 stars for the show. Never coming back to this site again. Quote me. –ddorsey72

5 stars for the show. — 0 stars for Hulu’s decision making and obvious lack of respect for their patrons. –zakmckracken

Instead of ignoring the fallout for a relatively minor error in judgment, Hulu’s CEO, Jason Kilar posted a direct-to-user apology on the Sunny page and on the Hulu blog, which included the announcement that the shows would be available again for another two weeks with FX’s permission. The letter was heartfelt, authentic, radically transparent, and most importantly showed they were listening.

Customer trust is hard won, easily lost…

…Given the very reasonable user feedback that we have received on this topic (we read every twitter, email and post), we have just re-posted all of the episodes that we had previously removed. I’d like to point out to our users that the content owner in this case – FX Networks – was very quick to say yes to our request to give users reasonable advance notice here, despite the fact that it was the Hulu team that dropped the ball. We have re-posted all of the episodes in the interest of giving people advance notice before the episodes will be taken down two weeks from today. The episodes will be taken down on January 25, 2009. Unfortunately we do not have the permission to keep the specific episodes up on Hulu beyond that. We hope that the additional two weeks of availability will help to address some of the frustration that was felt over the past few days…

It was an incredibly smart move on Hulu’s part. By addressing the concerns of users, offering up a detailed explanation, and owning up to its mistakes, Hulu not only put out a fire, but also came out as the hero, winning viewers’ respect in the process.

I really appreciate Hulu’s standing up and taking responsibility here. It’s nice to see that some places still hold it as something that’s important. This letter just kinda makes me like Hulu that much more. –jennies1897

Thank you Hulu for showing us that you really care about the customer feedback unlike many companies that are the total opposite. –papasote

Still sucks that the episodes are coming down, but it’s nice to hear a CEO taking the time to read some pretty harsh comments and address them in a professional, even personable manner. Well done. –scothe

anybody can screw up, but you at Hulu have shown you have the integrity to admit it and the willingness to go to significant lengths to make it right. That is the right way to treat people and in turn, the right way to run a business. Thank You! J. –juliadream

Bravo Hulu and Jason Kilar! You have set the bar for Online Reputation Management and have made us fans for life.

One thought on “Online Reputation Management Done Right: What CEOs Can Learn From Hulu’s Jason Kilar

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