Almost every brand will deal with some level of adversity during its lifetime, whether it’s an unhappy customer or a bad review that snowballs into a social media call to arms. While no company wants to deal with a crisis, there’s a way to show transparency, maturity, and move on quickly, and there’s a way to do… well, exactly the opposite. A prime example: Samy and Amy Bouzaglo, who own Amy’s Baking Company in Scottsdale, AZ, have experienced a great deal of backlash surrounding the unethical and downright crazy business practices that came to light when their episode of Gordon Ramsay’s “Kitchen Nightmares” recently aired. But rather than handling it in a productive way, they took to their Facebook page and went totally off the deep end.
First of all, if you’ve felt compelled to put yourself on “Kitchen Nightmares,” you probably already have some issues to address. If you push host/celebrity chef Ramsay, who’s not exactly known for being a peach, to walk away from your episode for the first time ever, there’s another mark against you. Still, having thousands of people, many of whom have never even been to your restaurant, turn against you online is clearly an incredibly stressful situation. However, that in no way excuses the utter insanity spewed forth from their Facebook account after people began taking to Yelp, Reddit, and other platforms to express their distaste for the Amy’s approach to business, which includes stealing servers’ tips, firing more than 100 staffers, and threatening to call the police on a customer who was irritated with waiting over an hour for his food.
As they say, a picture is worth 1,000 words:
Things started off a little bit inflammatory, but nothing irreparable.
Then things went into all caps territory when the restaurant was called out for using packaged food, and it all went downhill from there.
By this time, Yelpers and Redditors had naturally clung to this story.
So Amy and Samy Photoshopped a Reddit thread saying the police were being called on each and every Redditor.
But they weren’t freaking out. (Thanks to BuzzFeed for collecting these examples).
Where to begin? From cursing and throwing around religion to excessive posting and threatening, no matter how fruitlessly, to involve government agents, these people are one massive PR nightmare. Instead of going on this psychotic tirade, they should have:
- Carefully planned out and drafted one statement tactfully addressing the main issues shown on “Kitchen Nightmares” and posted it on any social channels or websites directly overseen by the restaurant. No bad words, no name calling, and proper punctuation required.
- In said statement, apologize to any staff members or customers negatively impacted
- Lawyered up – stealing tips is a serious allegation, even if it is just that
- Shut the restaurant down until further notice – if their online presence is any indication, face-to-face contact would be completely unadvisable (based on their latest Facebook update, it seems this is one rule they did follow)
- Selectively responded to commenters – you can’t respond to everyone, especially in a full-scale situation like this. Plus, as Douglas Karr says, “don’t feed the trolls.”
- Stopped. Things will start to calm down if you give them time. Fueling the fire doesn’t help.
In an odd and entirely unconvincing twist, a full day after all of this commotion occurred, Amy and Samy posted the following:
If Amy and Samy are like any typical brand manager, they undoubtedly receive alerts on Facebook, Twitter, and Yelp when any interaction from fans occurs – not to mention this amount of interactions. No one would allow that to go on for even close to that long. Furthermore, if you dig a little deeper into Amy’s Baking Company’s Facebook past, they have a similarly colorful post from October 2012 addressing their opinion of Yelp:
Boy, they sure get hacked a lot.
So, although this is indeed an extreme case, let the Amy’s Baking Company breakdown be a lesson. When it comes to handling a PR issue:
- Leave the language and God out of it
- Less is generally much, much more