Tuesday, September 14, 2010

My Life as a Restaurant Critic - Lessons Learned

So, my noodling around as a restaurant critic pretty much blew up in my face. By like any good experiment, I think it's important to look at lessons learned. So, here goes.

Lessons I Learned

  • If you have a problem, give the restaurant a chance to fix it while you're there. In my case, I should have expressed concern over a comment made and given them a chance to retract it then and there.
  • Only write what you'd say to the restaurant owner face to face.
  • Put your kvetching in context. One asinine comment wasn't worthy of condemning a restaurant, that was just overkill.
  • There are real people involved here, and you may be seriously hurting them. Did I really want to get someone fired over a comment they made during brunch?

Lessons I Hope The Restaurant Owner Learned*

  • People have walked out of restaurants and complained about their experience to their friends since the beginning of time. The fact that you can find these comments on line almost trivially, comment on them, and in my case, reach out to the author to have them corrected, is a gift. Be thankful for it. Bloggers are not the problem.
  • Ask yourself, what was correct about the negative review you received. What can you do to fix it?
  • As a blogger, I'm going to write a post when something extraordinary happens to me. Why didn't I walk out of your restaurant with an extraordinarily good experience to write about?
  • What if you regularly invited bloggers to sample your food and write reviews. Wouldn't that mean that there would be a number of positive reviews out there for every negative one that was written?**

*To be absolutely, 100% clear, I'm not suggesting whether the owner I talked to has or hasn't "learned" any of these lessons. I'm strictly speaking in general terms here.

**This is getting into the world of Reputation Management - a topic I know almost nothing about. So, when I say "what if ..." I mean that as a legitimate question - not a rhetorical one.

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