Medicine Hat Media

A Word On Local Business Complaints & Public Relations

In light of certain recent events, I thought this topic deserved a post. There’s always two sides to every complaint. You can’t please everyone. Some lessons I learned a while back when similarly sharing something negative myself, and posting it on Medicine Hat Media.

As a co-owner of Medicine Hat Media, a person who runs a personal business, is employed by another business, and partakes in the offerings of other businesses, it is of my opinion that complaints and criticisms of businesses in Medicine Hat are not only important, but vital  to both parties. We provide a service for consumer complaints to speak out against bad business and service, but we also provide that same service for businesses to promote themselves (for free), and like recently, provide a forum for businesses to represent themselves how they so choose. This creates a non-bias, non-partial, open and local environment for these topics and more.

We allow local businesses to advertise written content on our site for free! What other source locally with our reach allows something like this? But as typical humans, we love to hate, or hate to love negativity. Let’s compare comments on positive articles versus negative ones. There’s a post a couple down that promotes a showcase of local businesses with 0 comments for an example. It’s kind of sad really. It makes me wonder, what’s the point of offering this service to businesses when so rarely, they use it at all.

As Medicine Hat Media is a free, non-profit, public-driven blog, we allow an open forum of speech between any party and any person, no matter what their opinion is. As long as their written content provides a valid criticism, provides positive and negative points, appears to be factual (see definition of defamation), and encourages/allows comments for disagreement or agreement we will allow it.

Unlike publications, newspapers, and other forms of advertising-based media, we have the opportunity to do something unique for our users, readers, and writers. Let’s not ruin that.

And in that spirit, you are free to comment that you disagree or agree with me. If enough people are in opposition, then I am open to change (for example, removing a post). That’s the beauty of it.

User Comments

14 Responses to “A Word On Local Business Complaints & Public Relations”

  1. March 28th, 2011 at 8:44 AM

    Dusty Melling says:

    Haha, the lack of response to something non-controversial says a lot in itself.

  2. March 28th, 2011 at 9:19 AM

    Vaughn says:

    Yes, it’s typical. The same people that caused a stir on Twitter/Facebook for or against the article are nowhere to be heard. That’s okay, I have this post to link back to in the future.

  3. March 28th, 2011 at 10:46 AM

    Shan says:

    maybe before posting you should contact the business to get their side.. then if no response.. you can at least add you gave them a chance to clear it up before going public

  4. March 28th, 2011 at 10:49 AM

    Brian says:

    I can understand your policy of allowing articles regardless of whether or not you know they have any merit or truth to them. It’s the reality of an online forum. I’m not sure if I was one of the ones creating “a stir” on twitter but I was pointing out the dilemma of allowing an open forum in which anonymous accounts can be created and thereby used to create libel. I was also wondering if there is any legal concerns if false posts are made that defame a local business. I am often guilty of debating the hypothetical.

    At least on facebook you don’t see names like “chettar”, “frustrated with service”, “kind sir” or even “Brian”. But it’s cool to see Bill Nye the Science Guy is a MHM reader! I like this site and I’ll still check regularly. I’m thankful the Rosscos fiasco is a rarity and not the norm.

  5. March 28th, 2011 at 11:17 AM

    Vaughn says:

    Brian, thanks for you comment. I don’t know if I would consider you causing a “stir” on Twitter, perhaps “stir” isn’t the right word. I appreciate your discussion on the matter regardless.

    I think Shan brings up a good point regarding the libel situation. It would be good to get both sides right out of the gate. This would be ideal. Maybe we don’t allow any post without both sides? But even then, how would we know if both sides are factual? It’s your same hypothetical mentality that makes me question how do we get the facts to present.

    Unfortunately I am not a journalist, or somebody in a position that needs to fact check other people’s comments/articles/post. That would be a full time employed job that I would get paid for with some type of profit/revenue attached to it. Medicine Hat Media is not that. I think, ultimately, it’s the posters responsibility to get the facts and present what they want.

    When somebody gets sued for defamation/slander/libel on Facebook/Twitter. Facebook and Twitter don’t get sued, the poster does. I think, similarly, that situation would apply here? But I can see how that might tarnish what Medicine Hat Media does regardless… for allowing that discussion to be made public. I’m sure tons of people hate Medicine Hat Media now after reading the Rossco’s thing, but I’m also sure people hate the site for removing the complaint – in fact, I know that because I had to remove some very offensive comments attacking me personally for removing “freedom of speech” supposedly.

    It’s definitely a tricky situation.

  6. March 28th, 2011 at 11:52 AM

    Dusty Melling says:

    Every article on Medicine Hat Media is a review or promotion. Everyone thinks it’s all well and good to say something positive but when it’s a bad THEN everything’s different, which doesn’t make sense because it’s opinion nontheless. If every article had to be backtracked then this site would not exist. Articles that are obvious slander aren’t permitted (constructive criticism). I consider this website to be just as public as making a post on facebook, where certain people may have hundreds of friends viewing their statement.

    “The constitutional provision that guarantees Freedom of expression in Canada is section 2(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
    2. Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms: … (b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication”

  7. March 28th, 2011 at 11:55 AM

    Frustrated with Service says:

    I agree with Dusty!!!

  8. March 28th, 2011 at 1:21 PM

    Vaughn says:

    I think I will revise a bit on my post regarding the recently found “Fair comment” clause.

  9. March 28th, 2011 at 1:22 PM

    Brian says:

    MHM wouldn’t be violating the Charter by removing a post. It’s within Vaughn and Sean’s rights to allow whatever they want (within legal reason) to be posted.

    For instance, I would have no problem with Vaughn not allowing someone promoting an Aryan Nations rally either because it is something he is against or because he doesn’t want the trouble associated. It’s perfectly within his rights to not post that. I don’t see this as a debate about the Charter. CBC and other prominent sites remove comments on a regular basis.

    Apparently Vaughn received “very offensive comments” for removing the post that the poster actually admitted to being “mistaken context”. I think it was prudent of him to remove the original post (which the poster later apologized for as a “poor decision”) and the comments that were personal attacks. Doesn’t the Charter protect him from removing it? It’s his site.

    For the record, I also don’t have problem with bad reviews so I don’t even know where to begin with your generalities of “Everyone thinks it’s all well and good to say something positive but when it’s a bad THEN everything’s different…”. Taylor, Sean and Vaughn have done restaurant reviews that include the good and bad of their experiences.

  10. March 28th, 2011 at 1:34 PM

    Larry Switaer says:

    I guess it depends on the audience you want. I have followed Medicine Hat Media for the last year and a half because it has been an excellent resource for finding out what is happening in the city. On several occasions I have seen negative feedback on things posted to this site. This in itself is a good thing because it allows people to appreciate what they are going to find if they become involved on whatever level with the places and activities related in the posts. I follow Med Hat Media on Twitter to allow people that follow me to get a wider understanding about Medicine Hat.

    I am sure that several of you that read this will say” if you don’t like it go away “, my point is that is exactly what I will be forced to do. And that is really too bad. I intend to continue following on Twitter and will base my ultimate decision on what I see there.

  11. March 29th, 2011 at 9:42 PM

    Timmy says:

    The reality of a society that protects free speech is that there will ALWAYS be someone who’s PO’d with what another person expresses. So what? The answer is for the second party to express their views in return, not to force the first party to shut up. I enjoy reading honest reviews, good experiences and bad, about local businesses on MHM because they’re REAL – not pandering advertising copy (speaking as someone who used to write pandering advertising copy!)
    Any opposition to someone expressing their honest opinion on a blog, an opinion which is based on actual events in their life, mystifies me. After all, there was an ex political figure in this town who may have seriously damaged, if not destroyed, the political career of another figure with a scathing email which went viral last year. Do I support this person’s right to express their opinion? Definitely. And while this person seemed to have suffered little backlash, one blog about a bad experience in a restaurant seems to have brought such wrath that the blogger appears to have censored their OWN OPINION!
    The web is full of customer reviews like Ebay feedback, Angies List, Rate My MD, and so on. All I can say is.. Medicine Hat businesses: get over it. If you don’t like people expressing negative opinions about your products or services, don’t give them reason to.
    Vaughn, don’t change a thing.

  12. March 29th, 2011 at 11:12 PM

    Brian says:

    I agree with your comments on free speech Timmy.

    However, I think the debate has gotten lost between “positive reviews” vs. “negative reviews”. The Rossco’s post that started this was not really a review. It was about someone feeling like their friend was slighted even though it turns out they weren’t and basically saying that Rossco’s didn’t take their customer service seriously… even though they apparently do. If you think reading a post about a snarky server (who maybe wasn’t snarky) helps anyone decide where to eat then maybe we can agree to disagree. But it would be quite the challenge to find a restaurant that won’t, at some point, have a bad server or a good server who is having a bad day.

    I would rather read a negative review that said “their food is too salty” or “the music is too loud”. Those are opinions that people can actually weigh on their own.

  13. March 29th, 2011 at 11:57 PM

    Timmy says:

    You’re right, Brian… we’ll have to agree to disagree.
    To me, at a sit-down eating establishment (except buffets), service is at least 50% of the deal. A “snarky” server will keep me away from a restaurant just as readily as horrible food. Fair or unfair to the restaurant management, that’s just the way it is. Frankly, if you work in the service industry, you don’t have the luxury of letting customers know you’re having a “bad day.” My sister worked on the sales floor of a major fashion retailer for years – she was ALWAYS expected to be exceedingly nice to customers, even cranky ones, or she could be disciplined. That’s just good business.
    Like you, I welcome structured reviews, too. But we’re talking about a public blog here, not a professional news organization. Besides having the added bonus of being interactive (allowing business owners to respond) a blog is a perfectly legitimate forum to express one’s accolades or disappointment with an experience at a local business.

  14. March 30th, 2011 at 8:17 AM

    Vaughn says:

    Thanks Timmy for a look into your perspective and thoughts. This will help me.

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