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Mis-Communicator of the Week: The Plough Pub

17th December 2013


I frequently meet businesses and individuals who have signed up to a plethora of social media accounts just because they feel they have to. Most then fail to recognise this is another way to get their message to a target audience. Others undermine their reputations through poor content, lack of planning or ill-discipline.

So has been the case this week with a small pub business in rural Oxfordshire. The Plough in Great Haseley had an unfortunate falling out with their head chef who was allegedly sacked from his job for requesting Christmas Day off work. He reacted by taking to The Plough's Twitter account and outlining his grievances with his former employers in a series of Tweets.

As is the way with Twitter particularly, but social media more generally, these caustic messages were soon being passed around with the landlord and owners of The Plough unaware this was happening. For example I became aware of the developing crisis when one of the Tweets was re-tweeted into my timeline by BBC journalist Jeremy Vine who has over 200,000 followers. Despite this, for many hours, the Tweets from former chef Jim Knight filled The Plough's account with no response offered. Years of hard work building a business and reputation were undermined.

A row about working hours is one thing but Tweets that included allegations of the pub buying meat sourced from abroad and produce from Asda can really damage a reputation of a pub that has the mission to "serve great food, beer and wine in an enjoyable friendly atmosphere".

Traditional media outlets have picked up the story and, in one regard, The Plough dealt with the crisis well by correcting false information, and being open and transparent about their sourcing of meat and other ingredients. The write up of the story in The Telegraph - as one example of the coverage - reads quite well.

The flip side is that when The Plough finally reacted online they merely deleted all previous Tweets. This is poor, they should have used the power of Twitter to communicate the same message they gave to the newspapers, correcting false information and fighting back. The same way their reputation has been undermined should have been one of the channels used to begin rebuilding it once more. 

Providing a good quote is one thing but failing to proactively fight back is quite another. For that The Plough is my Mis-Communicator of the Week.

Communicator of the Week is written by Edward Staite

Update: Chef, Jim Knight has now been offered a job off the back of the row. Both Jim and his new employer were happy to announce the news on Twitter shortly after.



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