There is a media crisis at Taco Bell. Someone photographed a worker licking a stack of taco shells. The picture was posted on Facebook with a tagline that read, “sure says a lot about your employees, food treatment, and what they post on the internet.”
After this incident, how can Taco Bell motivate people to want to visit their fast-food restaurant and buy a taco? Their target audience is 16-24 year-olds. Currently, their slogan is “Live Mas”. I don’t think their image was marred too badly and they seem to have recovered from this crisis rather quickly.
Taco Bell responded immediately and said that the photo was taken during a contest showing employees taking their first bite of the product.
They fired the employee and the person who photographed the employee.
They knew how to handle the problem.
They did what Warren Buffet once said, “get it right, get it fast, get it out, and get it over.”
I noticed that they didn’t really offer an apology. Apologies are not always effective means of damage control. They put this event in the past as quickly as possible. I haven’t heard anything more about it. That’s good.
Someone driving along California’s 405 freeway spotted something that caught their eye. It was a billboard. On that billboard was what appeared to be an image of Adolf Hitler. On second look, no, it was an advertisement by JC Penney for a new teapot being sold in their stores. It seems more and more people noticed the advertisement and made the connection. The word spread about the “Hitler” teapot. The next thing that happened was that JC Penney removed the teapot from their merchandise line.
JC Penney really didn’t know, when they began marketing the teapot, that people would see an image of Hitler in its design. Their public relations executives knew that one of the rules of advertising and public image is to not offend religious or ethnic groups in any way. Being a large corporation like JC Penney, they knew that their consumers were ethnically diverse and that they could not reinforce stereotypes. Their PR folks were presented with a major challenge over this sensitive issue. Withdrawing the teapot from the marketplace was necessary.
JC Penney approached the issue with damage control in mind. As it turned out, they didn’t need to do extensive damage control, though. They really didn’t say much. They just withdrew it from their line.
According to an article in Time magazine, you can now purchase the teapot in person at JC Penney stores, but they are not available via the internet. I’m guessing I’ll have to visit a JC Penney store to see for myself.
This story has turned into an opportunity for sales, maybe.
I noticed recently while taking a college course in Communications and Public Relations that Zoo Atlanta is doing a good job of “digital presence”. It’s great for their PR. They are reaching out via Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn to their audience. Obviously, they realize the benefits of using these digital, informational, and social tools. They are sharing information and photos about the zoo and its inhabitants. They are inviting conversations from those whom they’re connecting with or who connect with them. It’s a great way for them to educate and inform those in Atlanta, even throughout the United States, and the world, for that matter, who might come visit Zoo Atlanta. They keep their pictures current and the information about their creatures up-to-date. Good job, Zoo Atlanta.
Reese Witherspoon was recently arrested in Atlanta and her husband was charged with a DUI. She told the arresting officer, “You are going to be on national news”. She was right. Ms. Witherspoon was a passenger in a car driven by her husband, James Toth, when they were stopped on Peachtree Road in Atlanta. Mr. Toth was taken to jail for DUI. Ms. Witherspoon was handcuffed and arrested when she did not follow the arresting police officer’s orders to stay in the car.
Days after the incident, Ms. Witherspoon did the right thing.
She made this statement: “But I do want to say, I clearly had one drink too many and I am deeply embarrassed about the things I said,” the actress said in a statement. “It was definitely a scary situation, and I was frightened for my husband, but that is no excuse. I was disrespectful to the officer who was just doing his job. I have nothing but respect for the police, and I’m very sorry for my behavior.”
She made this dynamic statement in a timely manner and she dealt with her conflict well. She used the proper crisis response tools in her statement: 1) she did not attack her accuser, 2) she did not deny the accusations, 3) she did not make excuses, 4) she didn’t seek to justify her actions. She offered a full apology. That was the right path to take.
There hasn’t been anything further in the news about this incident that would reflect badly on Ms. Witherspoon. Her reputation was spared, her image restored, and there has been no aftermath.
A Chicago Cubs AAA player, Ian Stewart has been suspended (length of suspension unknown). He faces a fine also. Why was he suspended? As the Cubs general manager, Jed Hoyer, told a Chicago Tribune reporter, “That’s not how we want to spend our time.” “We spent the entire morning dealing with an issue that doesn’t help us get better as an organization.” He was referring to the fact that Ian Stewart had ranted on Twitter in a derogatory way about the Cubs organization. Stewart goes by “BeefStew2” on Twitter. Supposedly, he tweeted several times and the content of his tweets broke the loyalty clause in his contract. Stewart would find it difficult to deal with this type of suspension.
In a college class I recently took, we talked about the internet. It’s a means of communication and a resource of information. We can communicate globally and quickly, too. We must be careful, though, how we post and what we post on the internet.
Ian Stewart, by tweeting, was essentially making himself a source of information about the Cubs. He needed to keep it professional.
Unfortunately, he did not follow proper tweeting or internet rules. He should have stuck to a more diplomatic or clean dialogue instead of making his tweets come off as a bulletin board to rant and rave about the Cubs organization.
I understand that he did a string of derogatory tweets. One wasn’t enough? That made it worse.
The Chicago Cubs organization probably felt as badly about his tweets as he ultimately did.