Lessons Learned from Amy’s Baking Company

You may have heard about the recent Amy’s Baking Company fiasco that’s gone viral over the last week, proving how detrimental social media can be when misused. Owners, Amy and Samy Bouzaglo, have become social media celebrities, with their angry comments retaliating against customers on Yelp, Facebook and Reddit. Even worse, this occurred after being featured on the season finale of Kitchen Nightmares and being dubbed “too far gone” by chef, Gordon Ramsey. Ramsey appears as the levelheaded party when juxtaposed with the Bouzaglo duo (which says a lot!), and for the first time on the show, he decided to quit working with the local Arizona business.

Recently, the couple made claims that they were not behind the all-caps, profanity-ridden posts, and that their account was actually hacked. While this is an unlikely story, they’re sticking to their guns on this one, making clear that they need a serious lesson on crisis management. This public relations nightmare makes us wonder, what steps should be taken at this point? How can the situation be rectified? And is the business, in the words of Ramsey, “too far gone?”

It’s apparent that the Bouzaglo’s could have learned a thing or two from our crisis management DOs and DON’Ts, highlighted in our previous blog post.

To recap:

DON’T shift blame

DO fully apologize – “It’s our fault”

DON’T offer excuses

DON’T behave as the victim

We would also like to add a couple more items to the list:

DON’T insult your customers

DON’T POST ANGRY, ALL CAPS, PROFANITY-RIDDEN COMMENTS THAT ARE PUBLIC ON YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA SITES, THEN ANNOUNCE THAT YOU WEREN’T BEHIND THEM IN THE SAME EXACT ALL CAPS, PROFANITY-RIDDEN LANGUAGE

And how would we rectify the situation, now that most of the damage is done?

1. Apologize, apologize, apologize. Unfortunately, social media users can smell a lie as soon as it’s posted, and public forums, such as Facebook, make for an unforgiving audience. The hacker story was immediately interpreted as such, and they are seeing the consequences. Owning up to the mistake and apologizing won’t be a quick fix. In fact, it will require much patience while shielding off continued angry feedback. However, it’s the honest route and will prepare them for a clean foundation to rebuild off of.

2. Get Quiet. Silence will allow for time to rebuild. It’s never too late to rebrand your company after a disaster like this. It will take some time and restraint, but it is possible. Going under the radar for a little bit, rather than making noise in an effort to prove themselves to the public, will do them well.

3. Training. While “going quiet,” Amy and Samy clearly need to undergo several levels of training – media relations, social media and customer service. If they are open and willing enough to take this on, the couple will be armed and ready to face their infuriated audience head-on when it’s time.

4. Step Back and Hire Out. No matter what intensive training Amy and Samy endure, we have doubts that they’ll be a perfect fit for manning their social media accounts, marketing presence and customer service initiatives. As business owners, they will need to step back, let go, and bring in a manager to take on customer relations on their behalf. Additionally, with their small business budget, it would be wise to bring on an in-house marketing staff member who understands the needs of the company, but also fully grasps the etiquette desired and conversations necessary to have with the Amy’s Bakery audience.

5. Re-launch. Once comprehensive training has occurred and thoughtful hires have been placed, it’s time to re-launch with a new look and feel. We would suggest making a formal announcement — press release and all – about Amy’s honest, brand new start and the large efforts they have made to get there. After all, this negative publicity has certainly made the couple popular, and now with over 94,000 Facebook likes, there will be large audience ready and waiting to see where they all end up.

Recent update: Amy and Samy actually hired PR firm, Rose+Moser+Allyn, in hopes that they could manage the storm of negative publicity and the “grand re-opening” for Amy’s Baking Company on May 21, 2013. Unfortunately, the relationship didn’t work out and the PR firm quit just days before the re-opening, citing that there were some differences of opinion. We can only hope that the event was a humble and apologetic affair. Perhaps the best thing the owners could do at this point is stay silent until the dust settles in Scottsdale, Arizona.

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