Charlotte Observer Bites Food Dog

Can you imagine being the head of public relations for Food Lion and reading this morning’s Charlotte Observer article titled “3 Types of Food Stores Struggling to Survive; They all have one common owner: Food Lion, LLC“?

I know, that headline might not seem all that damning. The real insult to injury comes with the lead-in paragraph:

Lois Litten used to be a regular Food Lion shopper, but a few years ago she decided to look for another grocery store after she had trouble convincing an employee to help her pull a heavy bag of dog food from a high shelf.

That is the kind of news you definitely do not want in the paper about your business!

What can we learn from this example? Trying to find the answer to the following questions might be a good start:

  • How does your company fare in customer service?
  • Would you want the Charlotte Observer to write about it?

Another lesson can be learned from the outline of the article itself.

I almost did not even read this article. The headline was long and clumsy. If that first paragraph didn’t grab me, I would have skimmed over to the next one. I am glad I didn’t because the article went on to talk about how Food Lion created a boutique store, Bloom to attract higher-end customers as well as Bottom Dollar which was designed to compete on price points with Walmart. It even described how Food Lion itself was attempting to change the image of it’s flagship stores in a tough competitive environment. Topping it all off there was great attention given to the marketing awards received by Food Lion and warm praise from industry experts.

The additional lessons I was able to learn was:

  1. Have a great Headline. ( I thought mine up after a visit to
  2. A great opening paragraph can save a faulty headline. Barely.
  3. I need to win a few industry awards… and then coordinate the press coverage of them!

Hopefully this will be applicable to your business as well. Oh, and as for my own headline, after several unsavory visits to various Food Lions, I renamed the store Food Dog. The last lesson for today is that no amount of wordsmithing can make up for lousy customer service and products. On that note, it’s time to follow up on a few answers I promised clients.

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