Friday, April 22, 2005

PR Gets Some Good Press

In a turnaround from its recent stories on public relations, the New York Times takes a look at how Wendy's has been handling its crisis.

This is a great case study of how Wendy's public relations team - and Ketchum, who is helping with the crisis (according to an O'Dwyer's story) - are handling the event.

In the article, it is noted that beyond Wendy's having to deal with a decline in business,
Wendy's has had to weather some 20 copycats around the country who claimed to have found everything from fingernails to a chicken bone in their Wendy's food.

Wendy's is reaching out, though.
To quell the problems and try to rebuild the company's reputation, Wendy's decided to offer free milkshakes this weekend in 48 Bay Area stores as a sign of customer appreciation. Mr. Lynch flew to San Jose on Tuesday to help coordinate the effort. The company has also decided to send coupons to residents in the area around the restaurant. Next month, Wendy's will introduce a new premium deli sandwich, also in the Bay Area.
Is that really enough? Likely not. A few crisis communications consultants noted that Wendy's did not do enough to reach out to Ms. Ayala, and show empathy. I am not sure if that is really necessary in this case - considering she lawyered up pretty quickly - and her shady past has been helping Wendy's.

This is a missed opportunity to test out the viability of blogs for crisis communications. For Wendy's, though, the crisis blog might have backfired. As the restaurant is the butt of jokes on the lame late night shows, and the finger has yet to be identified, all the information that the corporate communications team could have posted would have been about the reward, and ongoing investigation. And, it would have been open to juvenile comments.

Update: Wendy's is vindicated! Woman arrested for attempted grand larceny and shown to be a hoax.

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