Spur Sees Flames
Human Rights Day this year saw South African social media erupt with conversation about yet another disturbing video. Cellphone footage captured an aggressive argument between a man and a woman at a Spur Steak Ranch in The Glen, Johannesburg, on 19 March. The restaurant chain reacted quickly with a press release condemning the altercation, but the news has continued to circulate about incident, with many accusing the company of not doing enough to address the matter.
Since the video was posted by News Collection in the early hours of 21 March, there have been 49 244 mentions about it on online channels, peaking at approximately 5 000 mentions around noon on the day the video surfaced. Over 16 000 individuals contributed to the conversation and, as a result, more than 140 million people had the potential to see posts about the incident.
The conversation trend over a 24-hour period showing online mentions relating to the viral Spur video
The conversation was largely around which of the individuals was to blame. Many voiced their support for the woman while others felt that both parties were equally to blame. The restaurant, meanwhile, has not escaped criticism, even after publishing a press release on Facebook stating that the man featured in the video had been banned from all of their branches nationally.
Criticism of the chain has been based on two main issues:
While most agree that there should be consequences for what took place, many commenters said the woman should also be banned as she allegedly instigated the incident. The majority of comments on the Facebook post are from individuals sharing this sentiment and urging Spur to ban both parties. A disgruntled follower has gone so far as to create a Facebook page encouraging people to boycott the restaurant chain. Spur has also been accused of simply reacting this way to appease those who see the incident as having been racially motivated.
Spur staff did not interject
The apparent lack of intervention on the part of the restaurant’s staff has been heavily criticised by the public. Numerous people have voiced their disgust at waiters not stepping in to stop the confrontation and accused the restaurant of not being concerned with customers’ safety.
— Katleho (@KatleMolatlhegi) March 21, 2017
See the post here.
Considering the continued criticism being levelled at the business, should Spur have said anything at all? Absolutely. The first move in any crisis like this should be to acknowledge it. Although a statement may not prevent unwanted publicity, and may even elicit more negative sentiment, saying nothing is riskier and poses a bigger threat.
The response of your audience as well as spontaneous conversation about the outcome of the incident should also be monitored to gain insights into what your customers are speaking about. In addition, understanding the repercussions of engaging and choosing to not engage with your audience on certain topics is imperative in successfully navigating a reputational crisis.
Spur’s decision to come out with a statement quickly was the right one, but the company is likely to endure some further negative attention in the coming hours and days. Their best bet is to continue engaging with their community in an honest, respectful and cautious manner.
As Africa’s social business authority, Cerebra has developed a significant, practical and valuable handbook on crisis communication to better equip organisations to handle reputational disasters. The Social Media Crisis Handbook is a comprehensive guide to understanding, mitigating and managing the process based on 10 years of strategic insights from working with reputable brands.