I was at Olive Garden on Saturday and the table next to me was just receiving its lunch.
One of the customers noticed the order was wrong and told the waitress about the mistake. The waitress apologized, and said she would have the cook make another dish. The customer said she did not like that the food would be wasted, to which the waitress replied, “Don’t worry it is a popular dish, it will be reused.”
Shocked by the comment I immediately tweeted my disapproval, “@OliveGarden one of your waitresses said a dish being sent back will be reused. Ummm #gross?”
My disapproval may not get a social uproar, but it proves a point. Gone are the days of writing the business or calling your Congressional representative when you disapprove.
Social media has given society the power to have its voice heard and the power to ban together when a company or organization does something the public does not agree with.
Take Susan G. Komen and its decision to not renew its grants with Planned Parenthood. When the news hit, people voiced their disapproval, and Komen received some major backlash on social media. #NoKomen trended on Twitter and the organization’s Facebook wall was full of comments opposing the decision.
The backlash was so big it made Komen reverse the decision and renew the grants to Planned Parenthood. People from across the nation came together and voiced their opinion causing Komen to change course.
This is what makes social media so powerful. Before social media, organizations could throw away letters, ignore phone calls and delete emails, but now everyone is watching.
The American people now have the ability to share what they think and come together publicly from the comfort of their own homes.
Social media users have the power to hold organizations and people accountable for their actions. Where most business people see it as a “great place to market,” public relations professionals see as a place to engage and measure how the company or its campaign is doing.
Some organizations are scared of social media because things like the Komen incident. However, it is great tool to engage and interact with people who love or hate your brand. When a company dedicates a team set to engage and not market on social media these things can almost always be controlled.
Ignoring the issue, however, is not the way to do it. Ignoring issues leaves the public feeling abandoned and makes the organization look guilty or negligent.
When things like that happen, it is our job to see if there is merit to the concern and act accordingly. If you know the issue will take a while then a simple post like, “We are aware of BLANK issue and we are looking into it. As soon as we have any information we will share it here. Thank you, Ryan.”
Olive Garden may never respond to my tweet, and it may never go viral, but it is not a matter of how many followers or friends someone has on their page, it is the content that matters. If more and more people talk about Olive Garden reusing its food then it may go viral.
Paying attention can go a long way and a simple reply to my tweet from the restaurant could have stopped the damage before it has chance to become a bigger problem for the Olive Garden.
But as of right now, I am still left to wonder: Was my chicken alfredo a hand-me-down from a customer who did not want it? I really hope not.
Ryan Romeos is a senior at Cal State Fullerton majoring in public relations and minoring in human communications. Romeos is the president of Titan PR group, a student-run firm on campus, and a member of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA). Romeos’ Twitter page is @RyanRomeos.
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