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Price Chopper's visit to iSchool Professor's class on social media drives media attention

Price Chopper Chief Operating Officer Jerry Golub and Director of Consumer Insights Heidi Reale addressed Syracuse University School of Information Studies (iSchool) students concerning the grocery chain’s social media policy after a public social media misstep by one of its employees.

“We wish we had a chance to address this prior to this going viral,” Reale commented. “There was a lot of misinformation out there.”

Recently, iSchool Assistant Professor Anthony Rotolo wrote a blog post entitled “Price Chopper Fail” about a friend who had tweeted negatively about the store and was facing disciplinary action at work when a Price Chopper public relations employee reported the tweet to his department. The blog was picked up by a number of news outlets and Price Chopper, who conducted an inquiry and emphasized that this is not the standard way they usually deal with social media complaints. The employee, who did not work on the social media team, apologized on the blog and took full responsibility for her actions.

“While we are not happy this happened, we did take away many lessons from this,” Golub said, adding that managing the behavior of 24,000 employees was a difficult task.

Rotolo invited Price Chopper to speak to his class, Social Media in the Enterprise, about their social media policy and this controversy. Golub opened the discussion with a history of Price Chopper and their business philosophy. Reale followed, discussing the situation and how the one employee’s reaction should not reflect on the company as a whole.

They also said they would not be able to comment on any possible human resource action against the original employee, but they would talk about how the incident influenced their social media policy. That policy, which focuses mainly on Facebook and Twitter, included training for their employees about proper use of social media.

“Heidi Reale says policy seeks to do both: to make employees aware of social media, and to tell them what is & is not acceptable,” Kelly Lux, iSchool Media Manager tweeted during the discussion.

The class was encouraged to tweet during the presentation and Lux moderated the discussion composed of roughly 675 tweets by 90+ tweeters not confined to the class. Among those following along was Syracuse.com writer Geoff Herbert, who summarized the events, providing a list of illuminating tweets.

CNY Central also picked up the story and interviewed Rotolo and students Alyssa Henry ’10, G’12 and senior Television Radio and Film Major Andy Golibersuch ’11 after the presentation.

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