Peter Shankman is the founder of HARO and founder and CEO of Geek Factory, and a self-avowed steak lover. Normally that last piece of information wouldn’t be included in an introduction to just who Peter Shankman is, except that this time, it’s a very relevant piece of information.

Getting up at 3:30am to fly out of Newark to Tampa, for a lunch meeting, only to fly back to Newark on the same day, Shankman writes in his blog, “I knew I was in for a long day.” A day which would get him home by about 9pm. Shankman continues:

I wouldn’t have time to stop for dinner anywhere, and certainly didn’t want to grab fast food at either airport. When I got on the plane, my stomach was a rumbling a bit, and I had visions of a steak in my head.

Before his flight took off, Shankman sent out the following tweet, purely as a joke:

shankman How one tweet can get you a free steak dinner

Little did Shankman know that someone at Morton’s: The Steakhouse was listening. Landing in Newark, he found more than just the driver who had come to pick him up. Shankman writes:

I turned to see that the driver was standing next to someone else, who I just assumed was another driver he was talking to. Then I noticed the “someone else” was in a tuxedo. And he was carrying a Morton’s bag.

After seeing Shankman’s tweet, someone at Morton’s arranged for a 24 oz. Porterhouse steak, an order of Colossal Shrimp, potatoes, bread, napkins and silverwear to be delivered to him the minute he got off the plane.

As Shankman explains, that means that in under 3 hours, someone from the restaurant’s management saw the tweet, authorized the delivery, and the meal was delivered to the airport, which is over 20 miles away from the restaurant, while also figuring out which flight Shankman was on.

shankman2 How one tweet can get you a free steak dinner

Customer service doesn’t get much better than that. And Shankman’s followers (of which there are over 100,000) were instantly buzzing about the stunt, and continue to do so since Shankman posted the story on his blog. The vast majority of the tweets have been positive but Shankman also points to some tweeters who think a little differently, arguing that it never wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for the fact that Shankman had such a strong following on Twitter.

laura How one tweet can get you a free steak dinner

To a certain extent that might be true. But at the same time, as he explains, Shankman is a regular and loyal customer to Morton’s, a restaurant that clearly strives to give its regular customers quality treatment. He also points to Morton’s very active Twitter account, responding to positive mentions of the brand on Twitter, and comes to the conclusion.

I don’t think the number of Twitter followers I have played a big (if any) part in this story.

I would take this with a grain of salt. It’s easy for any company to monitor their brand on Twitter and reply to comments, both positive and negative, as do most major brands. I have often tweeted, both positive and negative statements about local companies, and their customer service teams are always quite quick to respond politely. As well they should. Any company that isn’t monitoring its brand on social media today is far behind the times. Morton’s is simply doing what everyone else is doing.

The second, and more important point, would Morton’s deliver a 24oz Porterhouse steak if someone with a couple of hundred followers had sent out the same tweet? If they’re a loyal customer – it’s possible.

Shankman implies that the restaurant was just trying to make a loyal customer happy, but I highly doubt that not a single person at Morton’s considered the positive buzz that the stunt would generate. And there shouldn’t be anything wrong with that. I’d be disappointed if that were the case, because right now, I’m inclined to think that it was a little bit of both. The customer service team at Morton’s is genius for seeing a great publicity opportunity that cost them nothing more than one free steak dinner and a 20 mile drive, and they were giving a loyal customer the kind of treatment, that according to Shankman, is par for the course at Morton’s.

What do you think? Did Morton’s do it just to give a loyal customer the red carpet treatment, or were they in it for the buzz?  Let us know in the comments.