The perils of eating a late-night burger

28 June 2013
Rebecca Ellinor, managing editor, Supply ManagementThis week UK chancellor of the exchequer George Osborne made the mistake of tweeting a picture of himself while working late on the finishing touches to his Spending Review speech. Nothing wrong with that you may be thinking. His mistake, it seems, was that he was attempting to show himself as a ‘man of the people’ by being seen eating a burger and chips but sourcing the meal from what has been described as “posh diner” Byron Burger instead of a fast-food chain like McDonald’s. This led to a front-page story on The Sun with the headline “Shamburger”. Other media followed suit with outrage focused on him spending nearly £10 on his complete evening meal instead of closer to a £1 for a fast-food burger alone. The move even led broadsheet The Telegraph to question whether it could be classed among the “top 10 political gaffes of all time”. Er, no, would be my view.  However, he did make a number of mistakes from which lessons can be learned. 1.     He reportedly tried to pretend the decision to buy from Byron Burger was based on McDonald’s not delivering, despite Treasury staff apparently being sent to collect the food. Better to just to be straightforward with your public/customers, after all you’re likely to get found out and the consequences are then so much worse. 2.     He’s also doubtless learning the perils of social media and the impact a quick tweet, LinkedIn or Facebook post can have on your reputation. Osborne apparently said: “There I am working late on my speech and I've got a takeaway hamburger, but it puts you on the front page of The Sun. It's an occupational hazard.” Better to first coldly consider the possible ramifications of using social media to portray a certain image, especially when you’re going to come under such scrutiny. What’s your view?  
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