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The day we went viral (for a day!)

By Michael Lee – 15-Feb-2014

It all started with one little word, and some three weeks later the hotel found itself in the midst of a  whirlwind created by a frenzied media in the search of a story, a reflection of what journalists and society has become – content thirsty.

For those who haven’t heard Brighton Savoy received a little bit of publicity last month in relation to the promotion of the Hotel’s Valentine’s Day Dinner. It all started in the Bayside Leader.

Being caught in the whirlwind of Viral activity

I had heard about the term “going viral” and never imaged that either myself nor the hotel would be caught up in a viral event. A lot of people claim to know what the “secret formula” is to go viral, however most things actually go viral by accident, and as much as I would like to claim to be the viral marketing guru, I guess I  should come clean and own  that it “all just happened”.
The first phone call started at 6.30am.  To those that know me, I am not a morning person at the best of times.  My beloved night reception attendant Tibor, decided to break with protocol and gave my phone number to the producer of top rating Melbourne 3AW radio presenter Neil Mitchell. Now I can’t blame Tibor, as I’m sure radio producers have developed a fine skill for creating anxiety in night reception staff at 6.30am after working all night with no sleep and obtaining all sorts of information and MY phone number.
“It’s 3AW” are the words I hear, as I answer my phone half asleep …… “Neil would like to speak to you about the article that appeared in the Herald- Sun this morning.”

I had no idea what they are talking about so I thank Neil’s Producer for waking me up, and advised her to call me back in an hour,  so I could have a chance to read the article.

I have never showered, shaved and dressed so quickly in my life, and dashed out to my local breakfast and coffee haunt, The Little Ox in Brighton, to read a copy of the Herald Sun. I must have thumbed through every page of the paper at least three times, yet could find no reference to Brighton Savoy.

I then remembered it’s 2014 and thought maybe its online, so checked on my phone for the Herald Sun website, and there the headline stood before my eyes. “Brighton Hotel criticised for sending out Valentine’s Day Mistress group email.”  I read the article and realised that it had been lifted from a story in the Local Bayside Leader newspaper.

I then recalled the phone call I received a few days earlier from a local journalist asking for a comment on a reader’s reaction to a group newsletter emailed that mentioned  “Come and join us with your special friend, partner or mistress for a romantic evening of sunsets, roses, wining and dining in the Seaview Restaurant”, for our Valentine’s Day Dinner. The funny thing is the group email was sent some two weeks earlier to our data base of over 40,000 emails, and the call was the first time I was aware there was an issue with the email.

Linda, the Bayside Leader reader was right. In my opinion it was not appropriate for the word “Mistress” to be used, and I was mortified to discover that the email had been sent with that reference.  My family have owned and operated the hotel for the last 47 years, and being risque or provocative has never been our modus operandi.

What did the world think

After finishing the article,  I then scrolled down and read the comments that were being posted, which almost all were light hearted and generally positive.

Based on the user comments, I decided that there was not much more I could add to the story. The Leader article was an accurate reflection of one person’s viewpoint, and to the credit of the journalist they contacted me, and I  stated the Hotel’s position and apologised for any offence taken.  There was little more to add to the matter, so when 3AW called me back I decided that as a non-media performer and the fact that the article had included an apology I had no desire to add any further oxygen. To the credit of 3AW’s producer they respected my position.

So where did the Story go

Throughout the day I received more calls from people telling me, that the story was in MxNews, on Twitter, Facebook, Channel Ten’s “the Panel”, PerthNow,  and even London.

So what happened Next?

In Short……. not a lot, 24 hours passed and the media moved on to the next piece of content  without any care or responsibility of the implication of what they had created some 24 hours earlier. The hotel could now get back to its normal day to day activities.
Oh and by the way our Valentines Day Dinner was booked out.

See photos of our Valentines Day Dinner



Brighton Savoy


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