What to Learn From These Recent PR Nightmares

By Kerri Adams, Editor-at-Large

The digital world is so fast moving that each brand is trying to stay ahead of the game to catch the attention of the ever so restless consumer.

But sometimes in an effort to create some buzz, the brand creates the wrong kind of buzz. This is often referred to as a PR nightmare. This is bound to happen to any brand that is gaining traction in the market, but the way a company deals with it can have a significant impact.

You May Not Envy Chipotle, But Here’s What You Can Learn From Them

Screenshot of Chipotle's Open Letter About New Food Safety Advancements | Chipotle.com

Screenshot of Chipotle's Open Letter About New Food Safety Advancements | Chipotle.com

Chipotle, for example, the restaurant chain with the tag line “food with integrity” is having trouble recovering from their food safety crisis. But, the brand took the right approach and responded appropriately. 

The chain was super quick to answer questions on social right after the PR scandal hit, then Steve Ells addressed the issue head on by writing an open letter admitting to fault and outlining the brand’s food safety advancements.

“But in 2015, we failed to live up to our own food safety standards, and in so doing, we let our customers down. At that time, I made a promise to all of our customers that we would elevate our food safety program,” wrote Ells in the open letter.

He also appeared on national television and repeatedly expressed similar sentiments.

Then in an effort to win customers back the chain had a series of free meal promotions. This was clever on Chipotle’s part because it created long lines at their stores again, making potential customers who were walking by think the food safety crisis had blown over.

Time will only tell if Chipotle will return on top in the fast casual world, but the chain should be applauded for their efforts to mitigate their PR nightmare.

Wendy’s Goes Rogue and It Hasn’t Completely Backfired 

The quick-serve giant, Wendy’s had a more recent PR nightmare earlier this month.

The brand decided to unleash the ultimate sassy troll on social. And at first, people were praising the brand (and some still are) for its comedic responses.

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What is happening to @Wendys? pic.twitter.com/1WXvnhBKA8

— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) January 4, 2017