Why My New Local Pizza Place Needs A Media Trainer

The owners of the new pizza place in my neighborhood could use a little media training.

I say this a bit tongue in cheek… After all, they’re a brand new small business and will likely have little to no interaction with the media. However, their messaging and communications skills could certainly benefit from some help.

So please allow me, pizza place around the corner, to give you and our readers a few pointers gratis.

1. All of your communications create a picture of you. My husband loves pizza. So when we saw the sign go up that said the abandoned shop around the corner would be a pizza and subs takeout restaurant, we got excited. We watched as they painted the place and installed their equipment. Every time we drove by, we checked to see if they were open yet. Finally, we saw the “Now Open” sign. We rushed online to find a menu. All we found were some half-photos taken of a menu posted on Facebook. We looked for a phone number and found a few different ones, some of which weren’t correct. Even the map and address online was wrong. When we called, we were directed to an incomplete website with spelling errors (“Comming soon!”). By the time we finally ordered a pizza for delivery, given the disorganized and sloppy way they presented themselves, I expected to get it in a week.

2. Remember the post in which Brad writes that your receptionist needs media training? So does the annoyed sounding woman who answers your phone. The woman who answered the phone at the pizza place sounded completely annoyed when we called asking where we could find a menu. She didn’t know the website address and she didn’t know if they had any specials that day, even though they advertised that they’d be posting daily specials on the Facebook page. She was our first interaction with the business, and she made it completely unpleasant.

3. If you’re going to apologize, you have to act like you mean it. I’ve worked as a waitress before. I understand that new restaurants can be totally chaotic. So I wasn’t surprised at all that it took more than an hour for our pizza to arrive and when it did, it was lukewarm. However, what did surprise me was the deliveryman who only uttered a half-apology. “It’s our first day, I’m sorry if it took too long…” He didn’t have any printed menus, and what’s more, he didn’t have any coupons or offer a discount. Basically, it was like he shrugged his shoulders, said “I know this isn’t great, but we’re new, so, what can I say?” There was no attempt to retain us as new customers.

Opening a new small business can be chaotic. In the rush to open their doors, it’s understandable that many entrepreneurs forget to talk to their employees about the corporate image they want to project and their top-line messages. But that failure can make even the best slice of pizza taste a little worse — and cause customers to flock to the less tasty but more competent pizza joint down the street.

Christina Mozaffari is the Washington, D.C. vice president of Throughline Group. Want to talk all things pizza and media training? Tweet her at @PMRChristina!