• In Praise of Amys Baking Company

    by  • May 21, 2013 • Social Media Skeptic • 6 Comments

    Social Media Pop Quiz.

    You’ve just appeared on “reality” television and came out looking quite a bit foolish.  As a second act, you launched into one of the most epic facebook meltdowns in the history of social media.  Before reopening, you claimed the account had been hacked, an and hired a PR firm for a total of seven days before parting ways.  The entire nation will be watching your reopening waiting for even the slightest slip.  How do you function after that?

    (Solid Recap of the saga here)

    Personally, I’d move to a rural part of Montana and become a dental floss tycoon.  Clearly contact with people hasn’t been my forte thus far.

    This is the very real situation faced by the now notorious Amy’s Baking Co.  Unwilling to give in to the Yelp haters or the Reddits, they vowed to reopen.

    will not end well

    So what would you do?

    You get control of the situation and let it blow over.  The internet has the attention span of a 6 month old fed coffee.  If there’s no drama to see, trolls will move on to the next target.

    The challenge is that Zebra’s can’t change stripes that fast.  It’s hard to go from a kitchen disaster to Le Bernardin overnight.

    What seems to have happened was actual brilliance.  While far from a victory in citizen journalism, it might have been exactly the right move.

    What actually happened?

    Train Wreck

    ABC seems to have limited their grand reopening to a very small number of people.  A group that could be served successfully with little to worry about.  Reports came in that only about 7 tables were occupied.  Reliable or not, that’s a small enough group to handle calmly.

    Once inside guests were asked to sign consent forms for video taping that would be going on.  (Reported on the bottom here)

      Media was clearly not invited, and Tweeting was frowned upon in a very “Hangover” way.

     

      Later that appeared to have softened a bit. (or somewhat denied)

    More than a few people thought something was up

     

     

    And even so, the final report from the news seemed to be:

     

    If that’s the impression you can leave a blood-thirsty media with, you’ve won.rainbows and unicorns

    Was it legitimate?

    From afar, it’s hard to tell if all of the diners were plants or legitimate.  It’s also hard to tell if our short attention span media will dive in far enough to truly know.   At least the majority of those tweeting seemed to have a connection to a PR firm, or get listed as a social media coordinator.

    Let’s assume something very unusual.  Let’s assume that this was 100% made for cameras and social media.  Let’s also assume that the media dives in hard enough to out some of the shills.  What has Amy’s lost?  Their business was going down in flames without this, so why not take a high risk tactic?  I’m not saying they did, but certainly it would be worth the low risk high reward.

    If so, it flies in the face of so much social media advice.  We constantly hear “be authentic”  There’s at least quite a bit of possibility this was as orchestrated as a half time show and it at least has a chance of ending well.  I wouldn’t have taken that bet before this.

    Will it continue?

    This is the biggest question of the them all.  Controlled or not, this is the biggest spectacle the company could expect.  A non-story, right now, is the best possible story.

    It’s a reminder of  exactly what they should have done in the first place.  The same lesson that we learned in elementary school still applies.  If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it.

    Your turn

    What do you think happens in this saga?  Will they get outed for a sham?  Will Amy’s Baking Company resort to their confrontational ways?  Will they fade away from our thoughts an just be another average restaurant?  Leave your comments.

    About

    Steve Hammer is President and co-founder of RankHammer, a full service search marketing agency. RankHammer provides Search Engine Optimization and Pay Per Click advertising services in some of the most competitive industries. Before founding RankHammer, Steve was Director of Search for ACE Cash Express and General Manager of Stir, a social network for going out. He has experience in industries ranging from online dating to senior care, including newspapers and cooking products. Steve took an unusual path to Internet marketing, with a degree in chemical engineering from Clemson, and an MBA from the prestigious Kellogg School of Management. This combination of analytical background and business acumen has offered RankHammer clients the tools they need to succeed. Steve has been a featured speaker at DFWSEM, Interactive Insights Summit, Financial Bloggers Conference and many others. He currently sits on the board of the DFWSEM as VP of web content, and was a board member of the Kellogg Alumni Association when they won Alumni Club of the year for the first time.

    6 Responses to In Praise of Amys Baking Company

    1. Amanda
      May 21, 2013 at 11:49 pm

      Every single person tonight that has tweeted has followed the same pattern:

      1.) Say they got in
      2.) Post pic of hummus and bread. Name price.
      3.) Pic with Samy.
      4.) Gloat how delicious their food is.

      Also, every single person who tweeted saying they were inside and eating was found to be a PR person, Social Media Rep, or some other marketing person. Every. Single. Person.

      You can see the tweets here:

      http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/specialReports/amys-baking-company-a-history-of-kitchen-nightmares-the-original-story-by-phoenix-new-times-3487544/

    2. Steve Hammer
      May 21, 2013 at 11:51 pm

      I don’t disagree, at all. The question in my mind is if this probable sham will gain the groundswell that the rant and TV show did. My guess is no.

      And that sort of makes me sad. Thanks for commenting.

    3. mesablue
      May 21, 2013 at 11:57 pm

      Anything less than a disaster is a success from a PR standpoint. The hard core press on social media was a bit over the top, though. Maybe good for a new restaurant launch, but too many people were watching this — there will be push back.

      Can they keep Samy and Amy off the internet forever?

      And, where were their handlers when Samy was swearing at a TV reporter after he left his immigration hearing?

    4. Steve Hammer
      May 21, 2013 at 11:59 pm

      Zebras don’t change their stripes. There will be crazy, it’s just a matter of when and how much attention it gets.

    5. Kent
      May 22, 2013 at 12:14 am

      I honestly think that this whole thing is staged. Way too many of the tweeters are being tied to a PR firm. Ridiculous really. A few of the people interviewed have been tied to being friends of Samy and Amy. Very little of the actual public other than people that were hand picked. Additionally, with the low turnout of people (compared to the 1000+ reservations that they claimed) I doubt this would have any impact whatsoever.
      Many of the tweeters are already being exposed. How the media responds is quite literally a gamble though. Be it a boon to the owners or a major defeat for them, they will still likely end up in a similar situation.
      Unfortunately, you can’t defeat crazy forever. Things will return to its normal state once their “re-grand opening” ends, and the majority of temporary staff let go.

    6. Miss S
      May 22, 2013 at 3:34 pm

      http://www.wilmunder.com/ABC/Food_Photo_Match.html <<– More damning than anything that happened last night.

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