KFC chicken crisis: A clucking strong PR response
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KFC chicken crisis: A clucking strong PR response

Feb 21, 2018 / by jugglingswords / In crisis communication, Juggling Swords opinion, PR, strategy / Tags: , , , , / Leave a comment

KFC chicken crisis: A clucking strong PR response

The unthinkable has happened: KFC, a worldwide fast-food restaurant that specialises in cooking and selling Colonel Sanders flavoured goodness, has run out of the very product that it is best renowned for… chicken!

This unfortunate incident has affected over 900 UK branches, many of which had to close their doors this week.

It’s a marketer’s worst fear, something outwith your control (and even job specification) is affecting your brand and yet we are set to play a very important part in repairing the damage. The customer experience has been dealt a major blow and a crisis communication plan has to be put into motion to reduce damage, whilst remaining transparent and honest with the audience at all times.

KFC chicken crisis: A clucking strong PR response

It all looks doom and gloom, and KFC are sure to lose a massive chunk of revenue this week, but their communication practice is one to be admired.

The company has explained that the shortage has been caused when it switched contracts from food-distribution specialists Bidvest to another, larger company named DHL. However, KFC has resisted the urge to point the finger or throw them under the carpet. Instead, they acknowledged the crisis, apologised for it and sought to find a speedy solution, all the while remaining open and honest with their hungry customers.

For example, on their website you will find that KFC have set out a reasonable response to their customers and you are able to see if your local restaurant has since been restocked. All the while including a witty yet relatable tagline: ‘The chicken crossed the road, just not to our restaurants…’ – very clever.

The statement also puts emphasis on their workforce by giving a ‘shout out’ to their staff working hard to get the branches back open.

Finally, KFC assured that while there are temporary restaurant closures and limited menus, they do put an emphasis on serving up ‘quality’ products.

Tone in a crisis

It’s easy to tell that KFC seems to have struck the right tone in its communications. Yes, they’ve followed the correct crisis comms map – acknowledge, apologise and solve – whilst also maintaining a coherent tone and stayed true to their brands nature and personality.

Their response seems heartfelt and human, not overly black and white paper corporate-esque. This is in keeping with their main audience base and company values, a brilliant nod of the head by remaining transparent throughout.

KFC will no doubt be feeling frustrated inhouse and will be working around the clock to get everything moving again, but it appears their reputation and image won’t be affected too much.

Consumers of KFC will definitely return to their local restaurants, but it would be interesting to see if the staff will be affected from this (some are being encouraged to take holidays) and stakeholders will surely have something to say.

As a whole though, this PR crisis has been dealt with highly efficiently and should be a staple example moving forward for when disaster strikes your business.

Oh, and failing that, there’s always Burger King…

Juggling Swords is an Edinburgh-based content marketing and PR agency. The team boast extensive knowledge in crisis communication and media relations. If you want to protect your businesses reputation speak to a member of the team here.


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