What happens when bad press comes knocking to your restaurant

Responding to poor restaurant inspections in the media

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Help! Bad restaurant inspection hits the media

More and more the public demands online content of government bodies meaning it often takes seconds to find a restaurant’s most recent inspection.

Media gets into the restaurant inspection business

Thirsty for easy stories increasing numbers media outlets cover inspections; good and bad.

Pegasus Ventures Michigan works with the Pennsylvania Chronicle- Restaurant Inspections website which publishes, “Out of Compliance” inspections for most parts of Pennsylvania. The website attracts more traffic than any other in the Pegasus Ventures Michigan portfolio. People want the information, folks.

Do’s and Dont’s of Bad Press Management

  • Don’t deny it.
  • Don’t demean inspectors
  • Don’t say every restaurant has violations
  • Don’t say anything you are not comfortable with thousands of people learning if you contact the media outlet
  • And Don’t contact the media outlet to tell your “side”
  • Don’t ask for an update if there is a passed follow-up inspection
  • Do tell the truth to customers without excuses.
  • Do learn from it. This information only becomes more widely and easily accessible in the future.

The Pennsylvania Chronicle- Restaurant Inspections website, literally, attracts thousands of people daily. One bad inspection from one restaurant goes viral and we see the post sustaining 300-400 users, literally, for hours. Oddly it’s even true for restaurants in more rural locations, we believed, unlikely to sustain high traffic levels.

The best response from restaurant owners? Keep your head in the work, get it fixed and move on while apologizing to customers asking questions.

The worst reacting? Restaurant contacting media the Pennsylvania Chronicle- Restaurant Inspections website demanding retractions, asking for removal once a follow-up inspection says the restaurant passes muster, and worse, threats of legal action.

This sends a terrible message suggesting management views the information ought to remain quiet a fast way to get another negative story.

Running a follow-up after passing? Bad idea. If media outlets covered Jerry the Bank Robber getting out of prison few of their readers care. Media covers bad news and saying Jerry got out invites readers to say, “Wasn’t enough time.” A restaurant passing a follow-up inspection invites comments saying it should have been shut down while putting the original inspection in front of the public, again.

Keep your head down, get back to work and learn from the experience. In time these incidents fade in people’s memories.

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