Yelping about a lot of stuff

journalistBeing a journalist has always been about being fair and writing without letting my opinion into the message. Editorial writing is something I’m not comfortable with since it puts YOU out there as much as the facts and details. This blog has been my attempt to move past my reluctance, but if you read the posts here you’ll see most, if not all, of the subject matter is unique to me and my experiences. I’m really not taking any chances talking about myself, in other words.

In addition to that, I have been suffering through a period of forced social silence. I have been keeping a low profile while events and circumstances in my life settle down. That is finally happening. The big news is my family is moving back to the Seattle area and leaving NYC behind. It’s been a long five years.

So I find myself alone in our Seattle-area home, prepping it for the rest of the family to join me in a few weeks. I’m free to engage with my social media pals and start sharing my experiences as I rediscover this wonderful place we call our ”true” home (sorry, New York). As I started to explore I fell into contributing on Yelp. yelp-profile

Writing reviews on Yelp
I leaned on Yelp when I first arrived, using its reviews to find painters, landscapers, exterminators and the like. My first review was inspired by the guy who climbed up on my dangerously-sloped roof to blow off the debris that had fallen from the trees and to clean out the gutters. I felt I had to give this guy some props. My review of AA Windows and Gutter Cleaning was 82 words. Short and sweet. I pushed the publish button and thought that would be it. But then a little while later I got the notice from Yelp that someone had voted my post was “cool.” That was it. I got hooked!

Right now I’ve contributed 21 reviews of businesses. The reviews have grown in size when warranted. For instance this review of Daphnes Café  is just over 600 words. As my footprint on Yelp has grown, I’ve also felt an increase in the uncomfortable power that social media can have.

With great power comes great responsibility
It was a knee-jerk reaction to take to Yelp on a Saturday when I had a plumber no-show to install a new kitchen faucet. A quick, scathing few lines and a one star. Bam! It felt good. But what was a shock was about an hour or so later I get a call from one of the company owners. He had seen my post, the one-star rating and investigated. He said it was an issue with the Amazon Home Services scheduler and while I was getting emails confirming and reminding me about the appointment, they received an erroneous notice I had canceled. The owner wanted to make it good. And he did, as you can read here.yelp-small-pour

I also felt the impact of social media while conducting a “Happy Hour Tour” of the local area. This is part of the effort on my part to get myself out there again and become more social, in-person. It’s been a lonely few months of self-imposed seclusion. A few days ago, I walked to Salt and Iron, a local restaurant that wasn’t here five years ago. I sat at the bar and ordered a drink. The drink seemed anemic, so I took a picture and used it when I “checked in” using the Yelp app on my phone, adding the text, “Kinda small pour.” You can read how the evening progressed here.  It was quite the shock to have the bar manager approach me later in the evening asking me if I was the person who posted a picture on Yelp. If you read the review you’ll see the night ended positive for everyone, but it was another example of just how tuned-in to social media businesses have to be now.

Opinion carries risk
I’m learning that if you put your opinion out there, you have to be ready to defend it. That may be the reason I have been reluctant to editorialize. But just like being fair as a reporter, you can be fair with your opinion. As far as I’m fair, and willing to listen to other opinions, I am pretty sure I can continue to share my point of view. Perhaps it’s time to take on something larger than restaurants? Suggestions?

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