Cook may be on to something here.

What I am attempting to do here is illustrate Cook’s point as to the quickness of information exchange on news media and other blogging/social networking sights.

The key points I was considering were his insistence the PR could be used to beat or at least keep up with online growth of potentially false or damaging information exchanges (49), and the overall ability of blogs to create in-depth conversations; conversations which good PR should be part of, but often isn’t.

Posted four days ago, January 29th, on a the r/atheism subreddit by an Applebee’s server.

Picked up a few hours later by The Consumerist. A watchdog blog for consumer rights and/or advocacy. Here is a link to the original story.


From this linking of social networks came two responses.

1. The following day, January 30thYahoo News picked up and wrote a short story dealing with the less than courteous ticket. Their description though does not note the earlier post by the Consumerist, but simply notes the story’s notoriety within the Reddit community.

2. The Consumerist’s noted an initial push by Reddit users to locate the big tipper in their second article about Chelsea’s (the Reddit poster) eventual termination from Applebees,

““I had already started receiving messages containing Facebook profile links and blogs and websites, asking me to confirm the identity of the customer,” she says. “I refused to confirm any of them, and all of them were incorrect. I worked with the website moderators to remove any personal information. I wanted to protect the identity of both my fellow server and the customer. I had no intention of starting a witch hunt or hurting anyone — I just wanted to share a picture I found interesting.””

At this point I visualize the Reddit community taking to Google with rage. Yet, more interesting though was the transition from The Consumerist’s first blog post, to the stories dissemination to other news media outlets and blogs.

By January 31st, the story and the scope of the social networks grasp of the situation had changed. As noted in my previous post, the pastor was notified by a friend of her new “popularity,” something she did not appreciate. Having called Applebees, her griping was enough to lead to the termination of the Reddit posting waitress.  Which lead to an even greater amount of buzz within the internet community.

Take for instance the January 31st media blog post by Fox2Now.

And a similar post from The Consumerist on the same day as they created a new blog post, and linked to their old post dealing with the new information.

The scope of both of these posts obviously dealt with the story in question, but also made a point noting the broader social networking implications, as groups were formed, an interview with the tipper was posted, and on all of the platforms the blogging conversation’s, which Cook sees as one of the key strengths of the blogging platform, drove this story onward to reactionary levels.

This has led to multiple Twitter hashtags, a proposed boycott of Applebees, a facebook page calling for her rehire, an online petition in which signers promise to eat at Applebees at least once in 2013 if they hire back Chelsea, as well as another Fox2now post drumming up support for Chelsea Welch’s rehire.

And my personal favorite, a Redditor’s reworking of a popular meme.

And on top of all of this dynamic social feedback, the Applebees PR move is best summed up by whose paragraph headlines and notations on the the Applebees PR approach sum everything up quite well

“How Did Applebee’s Handle the PR Situation?

Like a lot of companies who just don’t seem to “get” the power of social media and find themselves in these situations, Applebee’s disabled the Facebook page feature that allows others to write on their page’s Timeline.  Then, they issued the following statement on Facebook which received some 4,000 comments within an hour (you can read the comments here).”

Social media outcries over Applebee's waitress being fired.

(photo also taken from

Followed by the prophetic headline:

“This Is the World in Which Businesses Now Operate”

Cook would agree I think.

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10 Responses to Cook may be on to something here.

  1. Pingback: Week Three Review | thismattisblogging

  2. Thanks for linking back to my post, Matt. I appreciate it!

  3. mcmorgan says:

    Matt – Excellent way of working the idea of how fast an incident can travel, and the repercussions. What interests me is how intents get bent out of shape as the meme is taken up and recast to suit another’s interests. The wait said, “I had no intention of starting a witch hunt or hurting anyone — I just wanted to share a picture I found interesting.” But Applebee’s recasts it as a violation of privacy, which makes the wait’s intent moot and justifies her being fired.

  4. When I first saw this story it makes me wonder why tips cause such a reaction. This isn’t the first time I’ve seen a receipt make news. I think there was one a few months ago that said something along the lines of “No tip, I’m a single mom.”

  5. SMD09 says:

    Good idea on posting about this, I like your use of images with the text along with the quotes made reading easy and interesting. This was an issue I’ve heard about recently as well because of Facebook. I like how you presented the issues that arised over a reciept that was posted online.

  6. jsstusynski says:

    But what I got from the picture is there no name on it, so wouldn’t that picture still be keeping privacy?

    • madams2013 says:

      Good point. That is completely my fault actually. Her initial picture had the signature included, but as the outrage grew she decided to do some damage control and revise the pic.

      • josiahjcox says:

        Good post! Even thought privacy is super important, i don’t think his identity was at stake even in the original pic. it isn’t defamation if the information is true, so if the tipper was shown off for what he was doing, i think that is totally fine. Everything we post or make and share in any way is public now a days and the world is watching. Gotta be good or own up to the public eye.

  7. Pingback: Week 4 In Review « Weblogs and Wiki Reviews

  8. Pingback: notes on reading posts for week 4 in #en3177 | Morgan's Log

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