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Friday, August 23rd, 2013

Food Truck Revolution Meets Social Media Revolution

It’s common knowledge that social media exists as a platform where anyone can voice an opinion, positive or negative – and when it comes to reviewing food, there is no better way for people to leave feedback. Social media puts restaurants under scrutiny, and the influx of commentary can make or break a restaurant, sometimes forcing food establishments to close their doors, or in some cases, their trucks.

The salmonella scare at Boston’s Clover Food Lab, a business operating both brick-and-mortar locations and food trucks, is a perfect example of how savvy social media use can help salvage a brand’s reputation after a crisis. Many locals voiced concern about Clover’s salmonella outbreak, and the Clover team responded promptly and directly. Ayr Muir, Clover’s CEO, answered nearly every question posted online, and used social media as a way to engage with customers. Muir did not sugarcoat the situation or hide developments. Instead, he addressed the public on Clover’s website, saying, “Of course, the idea that somebody could have become sick eating our food is shocking, and very concerning.”

Once Clover’s locations were given the “go-ahead” to reopen, Muir announced on Twitter and the Clover website that there would be free coffee and fries for customers on opening day.

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Even if you weren’t following @cloverfoodtruck on Twitter, retweets clogged up many Bostonians’ feeds. By taking an honest stance on the crisis, Muir garnered a lot of support, and customers appreciated it. This was evident by the hundreds of tweeters who counted down the re-opening of Clover Trucks and urged others to go support them.

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So, what’s the big lesson that all PR professionals can learn from Muir? Transparency. Especially when dealing with a smaller business, gaining customers’ trust is key. The best way to rectify the situation is to confront it, and Clover set a great example.

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Lindsay McSweeney
Public Affairs Intern
University of Notre Dame ’14

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