It's such a sad, sad situation and ...


By Benjamin Haslem

... sorry seems to be the hardest word*.

Another PR disaster has crossed my desk, courtesy of PR Daily:

"What started with a cancer patient putting on a hat to keep himself warm apparently ended with police arriving at a Morton’s Steakhouse in Nashville to escort him and his entire party out of the restaurant."

There's some confusion about what actually happened but the perception off the bat is that the restaurant's assistant manager put some pedantic rule about headwear ahead of human compassion.

Predictably, Morton's has copped a barrage of social media opprobrium.

But instead of apologising (even for a misunderstanding), the restaurant chain posted this ham-fisted response on its Facebook page:

"Morton's fans: We are aware of the situation that happened at our Nashville location over the weekend. We appreciate you all bringing it to our attention, and we have reached out to the parties involved and can assure you that all facts will be uncovered. Please know that our corporate executives are dedicated to making this right with our customers. We appreciate everyone's concern."

Leaving aside, the term 'fans' (tip, people rushing to your FB page to vent, aren't fans), there's no apology or regret expressed.

And it later emerged the poor fellow with the beanie had not been contacted. I guess "reaching out" doesn't actually mean you've contacted anyone.

I like Facebook commenter, Eloisa Portillo-Morales' alternative statement for Morton’s:

"Dear Morton Customers, we are deeply sorry and sadden by the series of events that happened this weekend. Although, we don't have the whole story at this point what is being said about our restaurant and that night is not a representation of our values. We promise to get to the bottom of this immediately and do everything we can to make this right and prevent it from happening again. Please give us a couple of days to do extensive investigating into this matter and we will respond with the truth and a resolution. Thank you for your patience."

Now that's a great statement. 

It offers regret and an apology; it doesn't lay blame solely at the restaurant staff (important stakeholders) as "we don't have the whole story at this point"; states that its values do not reflect that type of behaviour; promises action (an investigation and steps to stop a repeat occurrence); and buys some time.

Not sure what Eloisa does for a crust but she should think about a career in crisis management.

*With apologies to Elton John