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  • Writer's pictureJT Street

As Texas reopens, here are five quick branding reminders for service industry entrepreneurs

I recently came across a personal post from a restaurant owner who had decided to reopen his eatery as part of Texas' relaxing of social distancing measures. He started off nice enough, encouraging everyone to be respectful of each other during this difficult time. But by the end, he had gotten considerably more frustrated, and encouraged his readers not to be "Karens" and accuse him of trying to infect people with COVID-19 or call the cops on him for running a restaurant.

His emotions had gotten the best of him, and ultimately undercut his message of unity and understanding in a difficult time.

Well, this being on social media, you can imagine what happened next. Multiple lengthy comment threads with arguments broke out. Some people commended him for taking a stand. Others said they'd never eat at his restaurant again. All of it completely avoidable.

Here are five things to keep in mind when posting online that are good reminders for anyone who runs a business in today's political climate.

1. As a business owner (particularly in the service industry), your personal "brand" is intrinsically tied to your business. If you "make a funny" and it alienates 30% of your clientele, then you'd better hope that it was funny enough to get the other 70% to cover for that loss of business, because they ain't comin' back. You're risking losing customers by staking out any political territory on social media, NO MATTER WHAT THE ISSUE IS. I'm not saying you can't ever take a political stance or have your restaurant reflect your values. Chik-Fil-A does it all the time. You just have to really decide that it's a hill worth dying on before you do it. Is calling women on Facebook "Karens" that hill for your business? I'm guessing if you take a breath from the maelstrom and think about it for a few seconds, you'd probably say that it isn't.

2. Don't let yourself get in the way of a great story. You have a GREAT story to tell! You've helped people, weathered the storm, shown you care about first responders and your community. THAT should be the focus of your post. Connect with people on that level, and they'll naturally be more forgiving of you when you decide to open, because they know your compassion and your heart.

3. Staying on message is really hard. Like, REALLY hard. If you're composing something with the intent of promoting unity, compassion and understanding, then it's important to keep those things in mind throughout your ENTIRE message, and not to let your emotions or opinions or ADD or jokes or whatever undercut that message. Read and re-read your comment before you post. (yes, even personal comments. If confused as to why, re-read point 1.)

4. RESULTS. MATTER. You may think something is delicious, but if it gets a terrible review on Yelp! and you have 10 people send it back, you'd pull it from the menu, right? Look at the results of this conversation. Do you see unity, compassion and understanding? If not, then your message didn't land the way you wanted it to land.

5. THE INTERNET IS ALWAYS IN INK. Be sure before you hit send. ALWAYS. Deleted posts are never really deleted if someone wants to screw you badly enough.

The really wild part of all this? I didn't even read this post on the restaurant owner's page. I read it on the page of a friend who shared it because he liked what it said. The fact that this kind of PR fiasco can happen on the page of an online acquaintance who copied and pasted something you wrote on your personal page is all the more reason for business owners to think before they click.

Want a second pair of eyes before you click send on your reopening statement? Contact me for a consultation and let's chat about it.

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