Over Two Years and Paula Deen Couldn’t Be Saved?

 

Paula Deen shown above. Image by TMZ.com. Above Promotions Company. Tampa, FL. 2013.
Paula Deen shown above. Image by TMZ.com. Above Promotions Company. Tampa, FL. 2013.

 

Over the past several days the entire world has watched Paula Deen’s career implode. Deep fried butter jokes and heated racial discussions have been the center of much of the public’s talk surrounding her thanks to the National Enquirer exposing her discriminatory words during a May 17th legal deposition. The deposition is the result of a lawsuit by Lisa T. Jackson, a Caucasian woman, who states she witnessed Paula and her brother, Bubba Hier, make discriminatory and sexual harassment statements and even acts of violence during her years with Deen Enterprises. This document reveals Deen admitting to not only using the “N” word, but also statements against those who are Jewish, black and other inappropriate workplace comments.

What is perplexing to me over this entire Deen meltdown is the fact this issue has been going on for over two years. This issue was knowledge to not only her previous, but current public relations agency. Why wasn’t a winning strategy executed or in place for this firestorm? WSAV, a NBC news affiliate, has this lawsuit going back to at least January 2011. Nancy Assuncao admits during a recent CNN interview for having worked with Deen for six years. The timeframe of her work covers when this allegation by Jackson first arose. According to Reuters.com, Oliver Maner LLP, attorney office for Deen, released a statement regarding the lawsuit in March 2012 and listed Deen’s public relations contact as The Rose Group. The Rose Group apparently replaced Assuncao who resigned during the Victoza, a Novo Nordisk drug, debacle. Again, it’s just not clear as to why did it come to the Food Network not renewing their contract with her and QVC distancing themselves away? Why is Paula Deen losing this fight?

This leads one to believe either one or more of the following three things happened:

  1. Paula Deen was in denial to her public relations team about making any offensive statements to or around employees; or
  2. Her public relations team underestimated the response and was unable to develop a fireproof strategy; or
  3. A strategy was created and Deen decided to not follow it.

It’s quite sad to think with over two years of time, pre-emptive moves to solidify Deen’s feelings of acceptance of all man-kind hadn’t drowned the airwaves in order to strengthen the fan base prior to the deposition. What would lead to Deen not being ready to schedule and appear at several interviews to denounce any foul intent in what Jackson may or may not have witnessed during her tenure with Deen Enterprises?

Instead there is a no-show on the TODAY Show, two apology videos, one of which Juda Engelmayer, Senior Vice President of 5W Public Relations was present during the recording, a loss of a television contract with the Food Network and no scheduled appearances to move her cookware line on QVC.

So as we wait it out to see what will happen next, if an additional agency will be brought in to help per rumor or if she’ll just sit back and wait until the lawsuit and public frying is done, it should be an interesting case study for practitioners everywhere to say the least.

What do you think? Why do you think Paula’s empire burned? Do the pr professionals who are or were around her have any blame in this? Comment below. Your reply may be used for a future post.

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Above Promotions is a full service publicity, marketing and promotions company, founded with the purpose to serve an array of clients that are looking to expand their presence in the marketplace. From a local to international market, Above Promotions Company can provide the exposure that goes above your expectations. Visit http://www.abovepromotions.com today.

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Ebony T. Grimsley is the Creative Director and Owner of Above Promotions Company. She is also the recent author of “Because You’re Small: Effective Marketing Strategies for Immediate Implementation.” To find out more information on the book, please visit http://www.abovepromotions.com or purchase online at Amazon, Booktango and other online bookstores.

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Waiters Eating in Front of You with Food from Another Restaurant???

Employees Eating In Front of Customers. Photo courtesy of Ben Earwicker. Above Promotions Company. Tampa, FL 2013
Employees Eating In Front of Customers. Photo courtesy of Ben Earwicker. Above Promotions Company. Tampa, FL 2013

A couple of weekends ago some friends and I gathered at a local South Tampa bar and restaurant for a day party following the monthly meeting for the Tampa Bay Association of Black Journalists. While we enjoyed the music and even one of the hosts of the event, the trip turned into well, this blog.

We arrived a few minutes early to the event and we were beyond ready for lunch. The wait staff was still scrambling to prepare for the crowd. As it reached official event hours we noticed the staff was still preparing for the event in front of the few customers (us). A few staff members sat at the bar (not standing behind it) and sliced lemons and limes. Delays happen right? Understandable. You want to rest your feet a little longer? Go for it! However, what happened after the manager took our meal and drink orders, I was personally shocked by as a business owner and marketing professional.

Apparently we were not the only hungry people there.  Within minutes of our order being taken a couple of bags from Chipotle appear. Initially we all thought “maybe they buy their salsa, guacamole or chips from there since it is down the street and closer to the bar than a grocery or discount store.” Not the case at all. The manager and other waiters began to stand and sit at the bar and eat Chipotle while preparing items for the day. You can imagine our faces and the conversation we began to have watching this all unfold. Is it not after opening time? Are we not sitting here?

There was no food critic among the staff that day, but what they failed to realize is you never know who your customers are in your establishment. I wonder now if they would have done the same if they knew there was an editor from one paper, reporter from another, online blogger, tv producer from Lakeland and myself (blogger of justice- well not really justice) sitting within 10 feet of all of this. It was obvious this was not the first time it occurred. We even witnessed a brief argument over one of their lunch orders that was not taken properly.

Now some could argue classism or even go the opposite way and discuss hygiene and proper etiquette. Neither of those are what I want to focus on today. What about smart business? What about not marketing another restaurant in yours that serves similar food? As hungry as we were that day, the Chipotle looked even better than normal. Thoughts of walking down there ourselves crossed my mind. However, subliminally they caused the table to wonder if the food they would serve to us would be good. Words like “Who has eaten here before” and other comments arose.

Many of you understand the price of advertising. You understand how much it costs to convert a potential lead to a sale. You know what happens when a bad review or experience is created and then shared publicly. But apparently, this group of people didn’t or they just didn’t think any damage could be done with the group there that day.

Well here are a few tips for employers of any type of business:

  • Employees should have designated areas to eat their meals and bring in other foods.
  • Eating and drinking in front of customers should be prohibited.
  • Encourage your staff to plan ahead for their shift by eating beforehand and/or planning on eating during breaks off-site.
  • Share with your employees the value of advertising and how their actions can directly and negatively affect their salaries due to public complaints.
  • You never know who is in your midst. Run the business at top levels at all times for all customers.

I imagine now that if Jon Taffer, Bar Rescue star and expert, were to have been there, he would want to let the manager on-duty know where the bar was failing.

What do you think?

Is it a big deal to eat another restaurant’s food in front of customers?

Leave your comments below. They may be featured in a future blog.

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Above Promotions is a full service publicity, marketing and promotions company, founded with the purpose to serve an array of clients that are looking to expand their presence in the marketplace. From a local to international market, Above Promotions Company can provide the exposure that goes above your expectations. Visit http://www.abovepromotions.com today.

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Ebony T. Grimsley is the Creative Director and Owner of Above Promotions Company. She is also the recent author of “Because You’re Small: Effective Marketing Strategies for Immediate Implementation.” To find out more information on the book, please visit http://www.abovepromotions.com or purchase online at Amazon, Booktango and other online bookstores.

Why Being a Walmart is Not Good for Your Business

Don't Strive to be like Walmart. Above Promotions Company. Tampa, FL. 2012.
Don’t Strive to be like Walmart. Above Promotions Company. Tampa, FL. 2013.

 

Over the past few months I have found very little need to go into a Walmart other than to pick up my prescription. I was a loyal follower of the smiley face looking for “rollbacks”, but due to various reasons, I began to shop elsewhere leaving only a prescription at a local store. However, after months of issues with their pharmacy, I don’t foresee purchasing from a Walmart again in the near or closely distant future. Now this isn’t a rant over why to use them or not, I could give constant reasons why not to, but that isn’t the point of today’s post. Just know I personally made some decisions over the past several months that I can obtain needed items from local businesses, Publix, Target or Walgreens. Today’s post is really an eye-opener for all of us business owners to not attempt to be a Walmart.

Now when I say that we shouldn’t try to be like Walmart, I’m not just speaking to retail businesses with products, but also to non-profit organizations and service companies as well. The concept of being the one-stop shop for everyone’s needs isn’t a one-size-fits-all for every entrepreneur, nor can be successfully pulled off by everyone. Below are my five reasons to not try to be a supercenter discount business or help everyone non-profit.

  1. Product and Service Overload. Have you ever just wandered around and picked up things you didn’t need and regretted having done ? Yep. You know the feeling of there is just so much going on, I could get lost in what won’t satisfy my needs if I even have any, but will possible satisfy my wants. Creating this feeling for your customers. Is not a good thing. Do you really want people purchasing items that they do not need, will not use or tell others they regret purchasing? Can you really service the public properly with things beyond the original scope of your organization. Your goal is to get your customers to use, love and share about what you have to offer. Consider really focusing on what works for your business and your customers.
  2. Service Levels. Let’s see 100 customers to one employee. That doesn’t really sound like good odds. It actually sounds darn near impossible for anyone managing that level of flow of customers (existing or potential ones) or individuals in need at a high level of service that will make them want to return or recommend to others. Personally I cannot say that I know of anyone who doesn’t have a story of being extremely aggravated when facing those types of odds. Ensuring that your achieving customer satisfaction is how many companies continue to grow. As yours expands, keep a close eye on service levels. When they start to slip, so do the feelings associated with your brand.
  3. Lack of Knowledge. The more you grow and expand, the more knowledgable every employee should be. Skipping out on being able to explain the products or services and to be able to recommend one more specifically to the customer is a huge disservice to your organization’s mission and goals. Every department and employee should be familiar with the products or services that affect their job and customers.
  4. Poor environment. Cleanliness, overcrowded shelves, small aisles, limited parking, etc, are things that can deter people from attempting to purchase what they are looking for when visiting your business. Opt to review where your customers go and how they feel while navigating through your business.
  5. Budget Customers. When setting up your business, deciding to attract budget customers comes with a price. People are looking more for price than quality. These are also people who will more than likely only share with others if they feel they received a deal, will only shop with you when you offer deals and will definitely be the first to complain when they didn’t receive more than the deal. Marketing to budget customers can be done successfully. It’s not seen often. It’s definitely not seen as good for the business if one through four above is occurring.

Again, this isn’t an attempt to persuade you to not shop at any “mart”, but a look at how you can quickly fall into a bad hole of turning off customers if you follow any of the items listed above.

What do you think? Are you moving towards a more custom business or supercenter? Please leave your thoughts and comments below. They may be used in the future for another article.

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Above Promotions is a full service publicity, marketing and promotions company, founded with the purpose to serve an array of clients that are looking to expand their presence in the marketplace. From a local to international market, Above Promotions Company can provide the exposure that goes above your expectations. Visit http://www.abovepromotions.com today.

********************

Ebony T. Grimsley is the Creative Director and Owner of Above Promotions Company. She is also the recent author of “Because You’re Small: Effective Marketing Strategies for Immediate Implementation.” To find out more information on the book, please visit http://www.abovepromotions.com or purchase online at Amazon, Booktango and other online bookstores.