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.

https://www.kfc.co.uk/crossed-the-road

BC tip: Wells Fargo - Facing the abuse

An under-fire US bank responds to its critics on Facebook.

The Feature

It has been a troubled few weeks for Wells Fargo. After owning up to some highly questionable sales practices, including setting up fake bank accounts, it agreed to pay a settlement of $190m; fired 5,300 employees implicated in the scandal; and its CEO resigned after a ritual grilling by Congress.

Adopting fresh leadership and a new ‘commitment’ to customers, the company has also launched a reputation-building communications campaign across channels – offline, television and online, including social media.

In September it posted three messages on Facebook announcing the ‘new actions to strengthen culture and rebuild trust’. These posts prompted a string of negative and occasionally abusive comments. Unusually, the company has adopted a policy of responding to many of these directly, with personal messages from named company representatives.

The Takeaway

Although there is a trend towards greater corporate responsiveness on Facebook, it is still relatively rare to see big companies engaging directly with irate followers. The policy of most seems to be to ignore the abuse until it goes away.

In Wells Fargo’s case, a scan of their Facebook page shows they were responding directly to enquiries before the scandal hit, so probably decided that going to ground would not look good, even if it might have been the safer policy.

Scanning the comments, the Wells Fargo responses can at times seem disjointed and overly cool, even if they may be genuinely trying to help. For example, there the comment from Gigi – ‘They pulled that … with me too, that’s why I switched banks a few months ago. They kept robbing me.’ This elicited the response: ‘Hi Gigi. If you have any concerns that you’d like us to review, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us (no account numbers). We’re here to help.’ – Nate’. They also seem to leave the most vitriolic comments alone; probably a good idea.

There may be legal reasons for the cautious approach, and each company will have its own limits on how fully it can respond, or not. The main lesson is that companies with a Facebook presence need a plan of action for when big problems arise, and even if the plan is to do nothing, to have a sound reason behind it.

When drawing up your own Facebook rulebook, it’s a good idea to watch what happens when companies like Wells Fargo come under fire.

www.facebook.com/wellsfargo