BuzzMachine's Jeff Jarvis is, by most accounts, not one of Dell's biggest supporters. You could probably even make a rightful claim that he's been the single-most hit on their reputation over the past year (actually, they've delivered the single-most hits to their reputation, but Jeff's been the leading voice on their woes).
So, when he blogged that he was heading to their neck of the woods, Dell's chief blogger, Lionel Menchaca, stuck his head into the lion's den, inviting Jeff to meet him and a few other Dell folks for drinks.
A ballsy move, to be sure. It was also a very smart move.
Instead of avoiding their "enemy," Dell's PR team faced them head-on. I imagine the internal debate went something like this:
PR Guy #1: "Dude, Jarvis is coming to Texas next week."
PR Guy #2: "The guy hates us and makes our life a living hell, but he's got more influence than a Texan President and seems pretty cool. Bet he'd be fun to have a beer with."
PR Guy #1: "Dude, we should invite him to drink with us."
PR Guy #3: "Woah, guys, I don't get a good feeling about this. What if he blogs about it? What if he still really, really hates us?"
PR Guy #1: "He can't hate us any more than he does now. He'll definitely blog about it. But we've got nothing to lose. Might as well embrace him, show some honesty, get some real face-to-face feedback, and live this transparency stuff we keep talking about."
PR Guy #2: "Just don't talk about the accounting scandals."
One of the things any good PR team does is counsel clients on doing the right thing. Not only did Menchaca counsel correctly, but he executed on it. And Jarvis showed he's a stand-up guy by accepting Menchaca's invitation.