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Gini Dietrich

Boners BBQ, Papa John’s Need Crisis Coaching

By: Gini Dietrich | January 10, 2012 | 
223

Last night I’m finally settling down after a very long day and I receive a Facebook message from Patrick Reyes (whom I’m not speaking to until after the Super Bowl) and a text message from Justin Brackett.

They both have sent me a photo that made my blood boil.

You see, Boners BBQ posted a photo of a customer, who apparently didn’t leave a tip, and used expletives to say what people should do to her if she comes into their restaurant.

Have a look for yourself.

The photo has since been taken down and an apology has been issued, but not before 71 people (overnight, by-the-way) chimed in.

I’m kind of astounded that the first post would even make its way to their Facebook wall.

Something rather similar happened at Papa John’s this past weekend. Shelly Kramer tells the story on her blog and you can read it here, but the gist of it is that a woman went into a restaurant, ordered, and rather than ask for her name, the kid behind the register wrote “lady chinky eyes” on the receipt.

Yes, in 2012 some kid actually wrote that on the receipt. The receipt the customer ended up seeing and posting on her social networks (rightfully so).

Here’s the deal. Neither one of these things are public relations issues. They both are culture, HR, and operations issues. But they both became public relations crisis because their customers now have this thing called social media at their disposal.

It used to be that the Papa John’s customer would have gone home and shown the receipt to her friends and family and they would have boycotted the restaurant. If she had any communication savvy, she may even have gone to the local news. But it would have stayed there – local.

Now she has access to hundreds, if not thousands, of people who will listen to her story and help her spread it far and wide.

On the flip side of things, your employees also have access to social media. I’m not entirely sure why the Boners BBQ employee thought it was OK to post a photo of a customer and say those awful things about her.

I waited tables in college. I know what it’s like to not get a tip, especially when the customer was extremely high-maintenance, but I’m pretty sure it never would have occurred to me to post a photo of that person on the wall of the restaurant…mostly from fear of losing my job.

It’s 2012. You can’t ignore the fact that, even if you don’t use social media, your customers do.

Because of that, you need to do two things right now:

  1. Write a social media policy. You can find a huge database of them so you have examples of what to include. But don’t just write the policy. Actually go through it with your employees. Give them examples like Kenneth Cole, Papa John’s, and Boners BBQ. Talk to them about the importance of being professional, no matter how much you want to tell your side of the story. In the public’s eye, and through social media, the customer is always right.
  2. Be prepared 24/7. Even if you don’t use social media 24/7 and give people time off, say so on your profiles. It’s pretty easy to write, “If there is an issue, we respond between the hours of X and X on Monday through Friday” (Comcast does this well). Boners BBQ deleted the post, but not until 107 people commented on it and it was shared nearly 40 times. They also issued an “apology,” which feels like an “I’m sorry, but” response. But they thought their job was done there. They’re being skewered in the comments and no one is responding. Crisis work is a 24/7 job. You must be prepared to not sleep one night, if that’s what it takes to manage the crisis…especially if you’re the one who created it.

Something bad is going to happen, just like it does offline. It’s just a matter of time. It’s in how you respond that makes or breaks you.

Update: Boners BBQ issued a real apology on their Facebook wall (see below). It took them 16 hours to do it, but they did it.

About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, a Chicago-based integrated marketing communications firm. She is the lead blogger here at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. She is the co-author of Marketing in the Round and co-host of Inside PR. Her second book, Spin Sucks, is available now.

212 comments
JacquelineCase
JacquelineCase

Check out the Bonehead's Facebook page @https://www.facebook.com/bonersbbq. He is STILL insulting anyone who posts to disagree. In fact, he goes so far as to copy their profile pics, "philosophy", etc. and post them, with barely-literate mocking comments, on his wall. The guy is an idiot of epic proportions!. He is particularly nasty to the women, after one poster called a woman a bitch Capron fired back granting that "Boners BBQ Yeah but I bet she's great in bed 18 January at 13:24 · Like · 1" The guy is a moron. He's actually pleased that he is known internationally for being a jerk! Oh BTW - he also removes posts that disagree with him!

KenMueller
KenMueller

I just went back to check out the Boners BBQ Facebook page, and wow. He's really playing this up. Looks like a few local radio stations have interviewed him and thrown their support behind him, and he's looking at the hubbub as international publicity and is really enjoying the attention with no apologies. So even after their apology, they clearly didn't mean it.

CarolynTran29
CarolynTran29

This is simply another typical example of the 'destruction' one ignorant employee can inflict upon his/her employer via social networking. I agree, in the 'good ol days' similar situations would remain local (travelling through word of mouth); however, social networking can project these incidents onto a global platform, and unfortunately an issue that would have normally been considered an HR problem, will develop into a PR issue. Although contracts or agreements may help reduce similar acts of stupidity (darn teenagers), it will never completely resolve these blunders. Bad news will always travel faster than good news, and online it has the potential to damage the company's image. What companies need to do now is enforce stricter rules on their employees regardless of their position within the corporation, create mandatory contract/agreements, and educate their employees on social networking etiquette.

What I find appalling is the fact that these incidents as well as others similar to the Chrysler fiasco are becoming more and more common. People need to get their acts together - PR/Marketing Pros included! Don't be stupid.

JGoldsborough
JGoldsborough

Solid examples of employee issues that lead to PR problems. Dominos gave any company this happens to a great blueprint to follow in 2008. GD and friends, fyi, Papa John's issued an apology the same day as well (Disclosure: PJ's is an FH client and we were advising them on this issue). You can find it here -- 3rd comment down from Papa Johns: https://www.facebook.com/papajohns.

Be prepared 24/7 is a great point and I still wish more companies did "fire drills" on scenarios like this one. Cheers!

thedomesticexec
thedomesticexec

RT @ginidietrich Papa John's and Boners BBQ were both caught with their HR pants down...and had social media crisis. Are you prepared?

kristopherwong
kristopherwong

@evanhamilton Thanks! WOW is all I can say! That is a bit Racy (pun intended) and I would have freaked out. Maybe #FreePizza4Life?

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

This is from @girlygrizzly :

Gini,

My blood was boiling as well when I opened Scott Stratten's post this morning. (That is how I received it... This is what I said to him and anyone listening...

"THIS is the type of BS that in the past would make me incredibly grateful to be so blessed to live out of reach and touch of dregs.

Now? That thought just isn't true anymore. As you have shown, as is shown every single day with the power we have right here at our fingertips... there is no place to hide anymore.

If you are a lying, jerk... you can't hide it...forever, there is just too much information, too many ways to share that information.. If you are a dreg, eventually your true self WILL be relieved.

He says, she says has always been a problem. We like to think that we grow out of it, but the truth is, many do not.

How shameful...as a business owner, this dreg should have been able to stand straight and be right. Instead, nastiness and ignorance are what we (on the outside) see.

Whether Stephanie and her husband tipped or not, this was an absolute disgrace.

My profession isn't one that will EVER make me (or 99.99% of us) wealthy-rich. (Our -my profession- wealth comes from the WHY of what we do.) Tips are a REALLY BIG DEAL. No joke, no snark, very important, on so many levels.

But. Scott is absolutely right. This whole disgrace completely nullifies what could have been an important talk, it is no longer about the tip or no tip.

Will people NEVER learn?! THIS is NOT how to live a good and right life. "

I agree with @MSchechter the actual NEED for this "training" (Isn't that what you get in Day-Care as toddlers?! Or, for cripes sake, at HOME?!) is depressing.

@Hajra Now I am pissed all over again! Girl, I would have stood up and started screaming at right at your back! WTF.

And last, I don't think it can be said any simpler than what @Mark_Harai wrote in his comment. Close. The. Door.

BIG HAPPY WANNA BITE SOMEONE'S THROAT OUT SCARY GRIN

MSchechter
MSchechter

I simultaneously get the need for this kind of common sense training and lament the universe for it. The fact that we live in a time where, "don't use derogatory terms in our system" needs to be trained is just depressing.

As for the BBQ situation, much of my day is spent with our customers. Most of those exchanges are pleasant, some are difficult and others outright frustrating. That said, my job is to keep my crap together even when someone is totally doing wrong by us. One of our customers started a thread a few days ago saying Disappointed With Honora TSV (those all day items that we count on), setting the tone for other customers to jump in, but then in her comment goes on to say how she is buying it. Sure, I'd love to lose my mind. I'd love to say how that isn't fair. But that customer has the right to do what she wants to do, even when it hurts. The web is taking the good with the bad, while not getting carried away by the good and not losing your mind over the bad.

On the flip side, I'm also tired of seeing one off fireable offenses turn into so called social media kerfuffles. While they are great teaching situations (and I think both you and Shelly did exactly that), more often then not they are chum in the water type situations. Brands need to learn and they need to learn faster, but do they need to pay?

Hajra
Hajra

What surprises me is that such people still exist; who actually do it and thanks to social media and (God also!) that people who are "victimized" now have a voice. The core issue is lack of courtesy to fellow human beings.

And now this may be totally off track, but there's a lil story I would like to share. I was travelling once and a fellow passenger, on learning that I was a Muslim, remarked "Hmm... will you blow up our plane?" It was offensive but not as much when the air hostess joined in and smirked and said "Oh, we shall be prepared, want to hold up your gun against our head" and that's when I lost it. I actually shouted for a long time and humanity, customer, respect and lawsuit were a part of it. Maybe it was because I have had too much of it by then. Really, am I ever going to fly with that particular airline. Maybe yes, but I might be on my nerves!

Sorry, for laying out my story, but when a customer is wrongly mistreated, it's hard to keep me quiet! :)

CarolynTran29
CarolynTran29

@JacquelineCase What makes this even more so depressing is that is not just an isolated issue - there are any business owners/entrepreneurs out there who lack professionalism and the foresight to address constructive criticism directed towards them or their business. At the moment he probably assumes that the free publicity will attract more potential customers; however, the case will be the complete opposite. Aside from attracting from a number of curious unique visitors, his arrogance and disrespect for the consumers will (in the longer-term) cost him business. Let's all sit back and watch him and business spiral towards bankruptcy. In the end he will simply be dubbed the failure who happens to be a complete jerk - nobody sympathizes with egotistic idiot who contribute to their own downfall. Let it burn (as sung by Adele)!

ginidietrich
ginidietrich

@rwohlner They did a nice job of handling it. You know the franchisee has to be mortified.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

@MSchechter I'm not a believer in firing people over mistakes like this unless they're biggies like, you know, illegal things or they keep happening over and over again. Like the kid who was fired from the Chrysler social media firm when he accidentally typed the F word on the Chrysler Twitter account. Reprimanded? In a big way? Fired? No. We all make mistakes. It's in how we deal with them that is important.

CarolynTran29
CarolynTran29

@ginidietrich Wow.. That is just wonderful. The owner should acknowledge that he is not only in a position of power, but he his actions will be used to exemplify or set the guideline's to his staff's ethics or social etiquette. His perverse sense of judgement should not be supported by his customers, the community or his staff. I agree, enough is enough.

rwohlner
rwohlner

@ginidietrich true but none the less they will never get a dime of my money. My wife is Asian, their pizza would leave a "bad taste"

MSchechter
MSchechter

@ginidietrich You're right, and what I likely meant was potential firing offense (depending on how the employee handles the situation). That said (and maybe I'm drawing a line that I have no business drawing), I cant help but feel like there is a big difference between those situations. One was a very general statement that was not meant to be posted on the brands page (even though the Chrysler employee should understand the implications of that even on his personal account) the others were more than hurtful or inappropriate, they were malicious. You should certainly take the time to train your employees, but for some reason (and it could just be my own youth and impatience), this goes beyond training for me and into basic human decency.

belllindsay
belllindsay

@ginidietrich@MSchechter God, I remember that one. Little did I know at the time that they were a client of the company I was working for. Heh. Not only did *he* get canned, but Chrysler dumped the entire agency! Overreact much!!?? Then you had the tact and class (and compassion) of the American Red Cross using humour to deal with the unfortunate "drinking" accidental tweet.

MSchechter
MSchechter

@ginidietrich Oh, agree there and didn't realize the owner was the poster in this case. I just think these two are specifically malicious.

KenMueller
KenMueller

@ginidietrich@MSchechter I'll go a step further. I'm betting the Boners dude (wow, i feel dirty just saying that) is relishing this. He's looking for the "spin". Look at his website and the slogan. This is his M.O. Sadly, there are those who believe this is smart publicity, and he'll get his hardcore fans to back him, and they will! Will he lose customers? yes, but he'll probably gain some. I'd love to see him go out of business, but I bet if you look back, this wasn't the first stupid thing he did, and it won't be the last.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

@MSchechter I think the Papa John's employee should be fired. It's racist and inhumane. The Boners guy can't be fired because he owns the joint. I guess we'll see how people react to his apology. But, all-in-all, if you make a mistake in social media, it's not always a fireable offense.

belllindsay
belllindsay

@MSchechter@ginidietrich Actually (as my 12 year old would say to me - lol!) - I would debate that point Mike - and again - it's the "Oh, lighten up" aspect I'm talking about - he tweeted about there being bad drivers in "Motor City" -- I suppose you could say he upset all the people who might potentially buy a Chrysler one day, but I think it's a stretch. Or maybe I'm just an ol' softy. ;)

MSchechter
MSchechter

@belllindsay @ginidietrich even these were different. Red Cross was a post about getting drunk. Chrysler was an instance of someone talking disparagingly about the core customer. I agree they may have overreacted, but it's hard to look at those as the same.

rachaelseda
rachaelseda

@ifdyperez It's ok I just heard of it too! Well shall we plan a time to catch up over a delicious beverage?!

Trackbacks

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  3. [...] every time I turn around I’m hearing about another Marketing/PR crisis at some business. From Papa John’s and Boners BBQ to AAA to Ocean Marketing. It just feels like we’re seeing more and more of these stories, [...]

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  7. [...] not a PR or social media crisis. It is a customer service crisis. But, like we talked about with Papa John’s and Boners BBQ, it was turned into a PR crisis when the customer posted the video on YouTube (which got five [...]

  8. [...] not a PR or social media crisis. It is a customer service crisis. But, like we talked about with Papa John’s and Boners BBQ, it was turned into a PR crisis when the customer posted the video on YouTube (which got five [...]

  9. [...] what makes the difference. – Outrage does not take a day off. Papa John’s story about “Lady Chinky Eyes” is a good example of why you should have a social media policy. – You can use humour to [...]

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