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Yelp maintains an active Pittsburgh presence












Tim Schooley
Reporter- Pittsburgh Business Times

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There’s the Amy’s Baking Co. drama in Scottsdale, Ariz., in which online reviewers helped spur a local business with problems to become a national news story.

There’s the pizza shop owner in the South who was visited by President Barack Obama, resulting in a barrage of partisan-inspired reviews for the place’s pizza in which it was deemed highly unlikely that many of the reviews had actually tried it.

Locally, there was the local restaurant who got a positive review only for the reviewer to make the false claim that the place was closing.

At Yelp, a consumer opinion website that generates 102 million monthly visitors and 39 million reviews, the daily commerce of on-line and mobile opinion has always been a business model that’s called for plenty of ongoing communication to help business owners make the most of its word-of-mouth opportunities.

“Our founder found his first fake review within a week of starting the company,” said Kristen Whisenand, senior PR manager for Yelp Inc., which is based in San Francisco.

It was with those issues in mind that Yelp has been engaged in ongoing outreach events to help business owners to understand how to make the company’s tools and review system work best for them.

Central to Yelp’s strategy to maintain plenty of personal contact for what is an online business in the region is Rachel Carlson, the company’s community manager here.

“I think it’s the tying together of the business owners and the community that is the most important thing,” said Carlson, who first began working for Yelp in Pittsburgh two years ago. “They really try to promote realness on the site.”

Tim Schooley covers retail, real estate, construction, hospitality, arts and entertainment, and government. Contact him at tschooley@bizjournals.com or 412-208-3826.

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