Monday, May 11, 2015

Wrong Memories Vitriol Triggers Social Media Defense

For Memories Gourmet Pizza Company, a simple case of mistaken identity led to quite a bit of online bullying recently. A different Memories Pizza in a different state fueled online rage after stating their opinion that they wouldn't serve pizza at a gay wedding. Mike Premeau and Kathy Danke, who don't share the same beliefs or the same pizzeria, did share a name. As people took to social media to express their outrage and support for Memories Pizza, Memories Gourmet Pizza Company was caught in the cross-fire. 

Tell us a bit more about the company
We are Memories Gourmet Pizza Company and we manufacture frozen Gluten-free/No preservative added (12”), and Traditional (12 inch traditional varieties and 7 inch traditional and breakfast varieties) pizzas. Our products are available for purchase thru grocery stores, natural food stores, restaurants, bars, convenience stores, gas stations and small fast food locations such as ice cream shops. We are a wholesale manufacturer that has been in business since 2012, servicing eastern Wisconsin and are in the process of expansion that will allow us to cross state lines with our frozen meat product lines. We will be connecting with a national distributor at that time.

Tell us what happened with the national news picked up the story on the Indiana Memories Pizza story. What sort of reactions from people did you get despite having nothing to do with the story?
As soon as the news broke, word spread like wild fire, between the concerned groups, the Christian community and the LGBT community. As soon as the information was out, people started searching for the pizzeria and our company came up on the search engine first. Memories Gourmet Pizza Company instead of Memories Pizza, was the one that was targeted. We were bombarded with emails, via Facebook, pro and con. Our computer crashed three times in two hours and at one time we had over 5,000 reaches on our Facebook site.

Has this sort of brand confusion ever happened before to you? 

What tips do you recommend to people on handling such a situation?
Practice patience, it will definitely take time to recover, however there are procedures that should be followed: Make sure you seek legal advice immediately to make sure you and your business are protected. Don’t take the action personally, it is directed at your name and not you, educate the consumer as fast as possible. Try to make something positive out of the situation.

Memories Gourmet Pizza Company response on Facebook

Has it quieted down since then or are you still finding people responding?
Yes, it slowly grew to be less and less, however, there is the follower that just heard about the stand we took and feels the need to comment. Mostly people that are uneducated about the situation or just feel that they need to reinforce the statements made by one side or the other.

What about your regular customers? How did they respond when they saw people react negatively to you? 
They were shocked by the news, mostly because we communicate directly with most of our customers and they know us and the principals we operate with. Actually, most posted on the doors, that the product on the shelf was not, or in any way, related to the media outbreak.

What is social media to you? 
It is our primary means of advertising and communication between us, the retailer, and the consumer and has become an integral part of our business.

What type of posts and frequency have you found to be the most effective?
Always any new event or any positive change of business that the customer would be interested in, as well as a way of driving them to your web site for typical information and to inquire if questions arise. In our case the announcement of a new variety, location, or an event we are participating in as well as feedback, hopefully positive ones.
We have found only about 60% of pizzerias or pizza related businesses have a presence on social media. What advice do you have in terms of social media?
 From our past experiences, I believe that most small privately owned pizza businesses probably do not have the resources to advertise, have a PR firm or are financially secure enough to promote their product as in the corporate world. For this reason it is necessary to make the most of the resources that are affordable and available to you. It is very simple to set up a media page and takes very little cash or time to do so. What it does take is dedication: daily, weekly or monthly, and regular posting that would be of interest to your customer base. Use it as if you were communicating face to face with a friend that wants to know what you are doing and make sure to set aside time to spend with that friend. Remember, you can’t have too many friends. As we all know, the best way to get new customers and keep old customers is to give the consumer what they want. A clean location, a great tasting product and the kind of service we expect when we visit a location.


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