One errant post on social media can potentially bring any business crashing to the ground in a matter of hours – as one growing restaurant chain in the Midlands has found out to its cost.

In November 2017, an Italian restaurant hit the headlines for fanfaring a £200,000 investment that paved the way for the opening of a second restaurant.

Fast forward six weeks and the restaurant chain’s fortunes have taken a severe battering after a whirlwind of negative media coverage, proposed demonstrations outside the restaurant and even death threats to the owners.

All this happened because of a Facebook post in which the chef (and Director) said that food served to a vegan diner had been “spiked”.

I do have an insight into this, as a very good PR friend of mine was in the eye of the hurricane dealing with the national news, presenting their side of the story and trying to turn the tide of global sentiment. And, as is often the case, there was much more to this story than meets the eye, but nobody cares about the detail when news media and social media users are baying for blood.

The restaurant was doorstepped by media, and the person who made the comments has gone into hiding fearing for her life, has resigned from the company and has been publicly and royally pilloried.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not defending the indefensible – but, as I understand it, the food wasn’t “spiked” – but that’s by the by.

The point is that in any business, no matter how frustrating, pious or even downright rude customers and the public are, you should NEVER EVER take to social media – either publicly or in the confines of a closed group – to vent your spleen.

This person has learned the hard way, and I’d like to think that this should serve as a warning to other businesses, but, sadly, I’ll bet my bottom dollar it won’t.

On a final note, I’d love to congratulate Russ at Cucumber PR for a masterclass in PR crisis management.