Chipotle: Making Headlines for the Wrong Reason

This past week, Chipotle made headlines after more than 80 Boston area college students fell ill after eating a local Chipotle restaurant. The incident is a huge black eye for the popular Mexican fast food restaurant, whose stock dropped significantly as a result of the news. When a crisis such as this occurs, it’s important for PR professionals to get to work immediately in order to attempt to save face. The Chipotle food poisoning outbreak serves as a reminder of crisis management essentials:

Respond Quickly, But Thoughtfully

There is no doubt that the longer the PR team waits to address the situation, the more damage could potentially be done. It’s important to release a press release and make announcements on all outlets to address the situation, but crisis managers should do so with caution. Don’t overlook important details, and, especially if you are a large corporation, be sure to fact check and spell check your releases.

Address ALL Customers’ Concerns

Chipotle did a nice job of responding to concerns and complaints from past and potential customers on social media. If you check out Chipotle’s Twitter page, you’ll find that the company is attempting to reply to any and all concerns. Sure – this takes a great deal of time and energy, but it reminds customers that you care, and that no concern or complaint is too small.

Include a Quote From Upper Management, if Possible

It’s great to have your Head of Customer Care speak to concerns and include some quotes in the corresponding press release, but it doesn’t  hurt to have the CEO or COO include a few words as well. This shows customers that your leaders are actively involved in resolving the situation and have a plan to make good on their promises.

To recap, respond quickly, but thoughtfully, address any and all concerns, and try to include a quote from higher-ups, if possible.

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