Fighting the fallout from a fast-food fail

Social media platforms can help you extinguish the flames of a PR crisis as quickly and effectively as they can ignite them.

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Whether the source of the situation is an unhappy customer airing a gripe, as was the case last week at Dunkin’ Donuts, or a wayward employee acting up on camera, such as the infamous 2009 incident involving two Domino’s staffers, social media channels now allow for every transgression to be witnessed by millions of people before the day is out. This creates an increasingly difficult challenge for the public relations people who are responsible for protecting the images of fast-food brands, but it also provides them a powerful platform with which to work.

“In a crisis situation, brands need to react quickly,” says Heather Whaling, president of Geben Communication in Columbus, Ohio. “In social, if you’re not quick, you’re not relevant. Particularly when food prep and sanitation is involved, the companies need to swiftly demonstrate that that kind of behavior is not tolerated and atypical. The good news is that social media provides a very public forum for brands to convey how seriously they take these issues and the steps being implemented to protect customers.”

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