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Social Media Spinning

All businesses sometimes  have to do damage control. Look at Southwest (and Kevin Smith’s Too Fat to Fly campaign) or the hundreds of other examples from recent years. And though more traditional journalists think that their newspapers, magazines and television stations should stay stoic and neutral through a crisis, the series of NPR gaffes in the last year show that media companies can and should think about ways to handle damage control, should a situation that warrants it arise.

So how do we deal with a crisis? If you’re lucky enough, you do it with humor and when bringing up a sense of nostalgia for readers.  A couple years ago, our restaurant reviewer wrote a pretty scathing review of a local restaurant, JR’s Bistro, which included this line:

A chef salad is $5.95. I got it to-go and opening the container brought Dr. Seuss to mind … green eggs and ham.

It had everything promised – ham, turkey, boiled egg, salad mix, tomatoes, onions, cheese, peppers, cucumbers and croutons, but the eggs had green rings and the salad mix was just iceberg.

JR’s Bistro could have written to the paper and complain, like many restaurants do. They could have treated Ledger employees poorly when they came for lunch (which they frequently did, since it was the closest restaurant to our downtown office). Instead, JR’s Bistro dealt with the blow with class. They renamed their chef salad “Trent Rowe’s Green Eggs and Ham Salad” and offered a special for it on Twitter the day after the review ran. They generated more local buzz for that move than the original review generated – and I heard several people order the salad when I would occasionally stop in for my own lunch.

And that’s how you do fabulous social media damage control. JR’s Bistro took bad situation and owned it – and gained much respect with their customers as a result.

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