The worst possible advertisement (but is it the whole story)?

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Watkins roofing image
Watkins roofing image
A roofing company’s roof collapses. Bad publicity . . . well, maybe things aren’t quite what they seem to be here

When I observed this image linked from  a contractortalk.com forum posting, “the worst possible advertisement,” I shuddered — yes, especially at the referred site’s photo caption: Watkins Roofing: Roof as we say, not as we roof.

But I’ve learned to check my facts before rushing to conclusion — especially when something is negative. So I discovered the original story in the Columbia Daily Tribune (and photo, which should be credited to Don Shrubshell at the Tribune), with these observations:

Watkins Roofing owner Dan Watkins discovered Wednesday morning that the roof had collapsed. The affected building is the largest of three on the site; the other two were inspected and are safe, he said.

Watkins said the metal roofs were not built by his company. He said equipment and materials were inside the building where the roof collapsed, and he wasn’t sure what was still usable because the roof hadn’t been lifted yet. Demolition was set to start Monday.

I set the relevant sentence in bold italics. Heck, the roofing company happened to be in a building constructed with roof installed by someone else (a realistic and not-too-surprising business possibility.)

Will this image damage Watkins Roofing? On the surface, it doesn’t look so good, but I’m sure the company’s clients will judge it by other criteria — and I expect most of them are rather satisfied with its service, quality, and reliability. Once the dust has settled, Watkins move to a rebuilt structure, perhaps one built by itself.

We also should remember that several other roofs have collapsed in the area under snow load — so Watkins probably has an impressive work backlog ahead of it.

The point here is that while a picture may be worth a thousand words, it also can misrepresent  the story’s substance. This image may go viral, like the classic Change Order yacht tale, but its damaging effect will probably influence the decisions and perspectives of people who would never use Watkins Roofing’s services.

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