BC tip: KFC - Not catering for journalists

KFC’s response to its chicken supply problems in the UK has been admired – at least for customers. But it has not put much on the menu for the media.

 KFC UK's 'Crossed the road' store finder

KFC UK's 'Crossed the road' store finder

The Feature

KFC’s UK website responded to a shortage of chicken in its restaurants with a helpful page allowing users to search for their nearest open restaurant.

The URL was memorable https://www.kfc.co.uk/crossed-the-road and also advertised in various publications, through humorous and eye-catching adverts, as well as on social media accounts such as the KFC UK Twitter feed.

The site also featured a menu detailing which items had limited availability, and offered rewards to customers inconvenienced by the shortage.

However, the UK site offered no press releases: there is no News section. There were no links to the global/US site, or to the website of the chain’s parent company Yum! (Yum.com); although neither carried any news on the UK shortage in any case. In fact, we could find no mention of Yum! at all on the UK KFC site.

The contact page on the UK site defaults to an email form; users can get to a page with a phone number, but that is for customers, with the press office number displayed in small text below.

The Takeaway

The media can be a helpful ally in communicating the reasons for problems at a company, and the response to them. But while KFC helped customers get their takeaway, journalists coming to the site hungry for the latest official releases, or detail about the supplier switch which caused the shortages, would have been left unsatisfied. These problems could have been at least partly mitigated by easily-found press contact details.

It was also a missed opportunity to explain more about the company’s supply chain – both to those interested in the company’s CSR approach, and to potential partners. The parent company Yum!’s site would have been the place to publish this, and any press releases. But even if they had been available there, the lack of any connection between the KFC UK site and yum.com meant that journalists would have needed to know or research who the parent company was to find them.

It is understandable to prioritise customer communication in a crisis, but companies should remember that other audiences will be looking for information too, and may well visit 'customer' sites which are not primarily intended for them.

Having good, permanent signposts between the different parts of your web estate, and to helpful contact options, can help direct those audiences to their correct destinations, and give you one less thing to worry about in a crisis.