By Jenny Fujita and Joy K. Miura, Fujita & Miura Public Relations

Last month was full of technology changeovers, with AT&T acquiring all of Cingular’s Kaua`i business and Oceanic Time Warner’s channel expansion. Though many agree that the changes were positive ones, they were also wrought with a bit of confusion, as all changes are.

Were AT&T and Oceanic negligent in communicating with their publics about the changes? Of course not. They both initiated communication through customer mail outs, online explanations, as well as face-to-face and phone consultations. However, many consumers threw away or didn’t read their instructional mailings, or didn’t have the time or motivation to seek a personal consultation. What many of us chose to do instead was ask a friend. Dinner table conversations were abuzz with questions like, “What channel is public access on? How do I get rid of ‘roam’ on my cell phone display? How do I answer my voicemail again?”

What is fascinating about these technology transformations is how the coconut wireless assisted. While one friend stood in line to learn about all the new cell phone plans, the rest of us carried on with our daily routine. That friend then returned home armed with information and told ten friends who told ten more friends and so on. This process is a good reminder for any company of how powerful informal communications can be. It’s also important to consider how to harness the coconut wireless and use it to your best advantage: offer incentives to those who send business your way or train all your employees, not only customer service representatives, to be 24-hour community ambassadors.

The coconut wireless works. Here we are a few weeks later and everyone is happily “remoting” to the Food Network, Travel Channel, OC16, etc. and enjoying their free long distance on nights and weekends, thanks to two proactive companies, a few great friends, and a little whisper down the lane, over the chain-link fence, through the papaya trees, from car to car, at the beach…

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