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Wendy’s Crisis Communications

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Wendy’s public relations team has received high marks from the media on their handling of the recent “San Jose Incident.”

Wendy’s approach? The New York Times outlines it here, showing the need for a quick response and an open dialogue with the media.

For the 52-year-old Mr. Lynch, there was no time to prepare a sophisticated plan of action. The news media, he was informed, knew about the gruesome discovery, and wanted a statement. He did not wake John T. Schuessler, Wendy’s chairman and chief executive, that night, but sent him e-mail messages explaining the news and the steps he had taken.22wendys1841_1

Over the next month, Mr. Lynch’s job became part “CSI: Wendy’s,” part nightmare.

A management team from Sacramento, Wendy’s regional base, converted the office of the Wendy’s franchisee, JEM Management, based in Fresno, into a makeshift crisis control room. The local police department was already involved; the coroner’s office was brought in six days later.

Most of all, Mr. Lynch spent countless hours briefing the news media. “It went nonstop the next two or three days,” Mr. Lynch said, “even through the weekend. Even when the pope passed away, it still got coverage.”

Now that the hoax has been thoroughly reported, Wendy’s is focused on closure. Its Web site shows us that the fast food chain is minimizing any national reference to the incident. But its job is on the crisis front is just beginning.

After any crisis, you must rebuild your brand. The New York Times has another article detailing how Wendy’s is approaching this task, limiting follow-up communications to markets impacted by the hoax. It also reviews how other companies approached the rebuilding phase.

These articles offer a great example of how to handle a crisis communications situation, including strategy.

Link: Wendy’s Ace PR Effort

Kevin Dugan is the author of the popular Strategic Public Relations blog. Kevin is Director of Marketing Communications for FRCH Design Worldwide.

Visit Kevin’s blog: Strategic Public Relations.

Wendy’s Crisis Communications
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