Wendys crisis management

As chief public relations advisor, responsibilities include the strategy and execution of new campaigns reporting to the CEO and executive team; media relations and training for senior managers; social media strategy and execution; and crisis and issues management. Having a background in broadcast journalism and the performing arts, she knows how to tell a good story to the media and the public. With experience in sectors such as lifestyle, health, retail and the arts, Cynnamon delivers successful campaigns from inception to execution. She has shaped PR strategies for established brands such as PWC, The City of Calgary as well as London Drugs and has experience in a range of industries including entertainment, oil and gas, retail, health services, finance, community programs and professional services.

Wendys crisis management

The fast-food chain has had to endure its share of bad puns after its "finger in the chili" incident, but experts say Wendy's communicators did a good job of managing the crisis. What lessons can be learned from the way Wendy's managed its messages during the "finger in the chili" crisis?

At the top of the list would be the family restaurant chain's avoidance of mudslinging; in this case, at the woman who first made the accusation. In the first hours or days after a crisis situation develops, some companies succumb to the temptation to accuse the accuser.

Wendys crisis management

It's a move that always makes the organization look defensive, and just a bit guilty. Wendy's executives and communications people focused the company's response on health and safety investigations into the safety of the restaurant's food handling—not on the woman who made the charge.

Crisis communications expert Jonathan Bernstein explains that Wendy's appears to have smartly stood clear of pointing the, uh, finger at Anna Ayala—never a good move in the days after a crisis starts—but he thinks the company could have been more forceful in defending itself initially.

He also thinks it would have been smart for Wendy's outlets to step up the two-for-one or freebie offers right after the finger story hit the news. Free milkshakes weren't offered until after Ayala had been arrested. Wendy's senior VP of communications, Denny Lynch, was featured in the piece as the busy coordinator of a multi-pronged effort to communicate with police, health inspectors, the media and the public.

PR blogger Jeremy Pepper mused about the value that a blog would have contributed to the crisis communications effort, had Wendy's chose to launch one. 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.

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