Saturday, August 4, 2012

Chick-Fil-A's Controversial Statement and PR Do's and Don't's

Picture via Melissa Agnes

Chick-Fil-A has been receiving a lot of media attention lately. The company has always publicly demonstrated their firmly-held Christian views. Whether it be through various donations to charities, such as the Marriage & Family Foundation, or being closed on Sundays, they have never denied their Christian values.  However, the following statement by Dan Cathy, president of the company, has received both negative and positive powerful responses:

Those that share Chick-Fil-A's strong Christian beliefs have stood behind the company. This past week an anti boycott event labeled "customer appreciation day" took place. Unfortunately, one can conclude that this day was less about an appreciation for customers and more about a public demonstration of opposition to gay marriage. 

Thankfully, however, not all responses have been positive. Many people publicly stated that they would now be boycotting the establishment on various websites including Chick-Fil-A's Facebook page. There have been protests such as "Kiss Day", in which both heterosexual and homosexual couples publicly kissed inside the Chick-Fil-A establishment and then posted the photos online in protest of the company's latest statements.

It is safe to say that Chick-Fil-A has put themselves in the middle of a publicly debated crossfire. What is particularly interesting in this story, however, is the influence Social Media has had on the situation. In the past, public protests would go on and be featured on the news. However, now anyone who has access to some form of social media can comment on the story and state their opinions. This causes the situation to spread like wildfire and go on longer than it normally would. Paul Root Wolpe, director of the Center for Ethics of Emory University, stated that, "social media is the great equalizer because it gives people who are otherwise voiceless an enormous advantage in communicating with the public". Social media has also allowed one to gain valuable PR lessons from Chick-Fil-A's debacle:

  • Never create a fake social media account to cover-up your mistakes or lies.
    • Chick-Fil-A has been accused of creating a fake Facebook account to disguise the real reason as to why they will no longer be carrying Jim Henson's toys.
    • Just as one should never delete negative comments on their Facebook page, one should never create a fake supporter to defend their statements.
    • It is foolish and easily detectable in this day and age.
  • Do not neglect a social media outlet.
    • Although Chick-Fil-A has been actively responding on their Facebook page, they have not shown much activity on Twitter. This is a big mistake because a lot of the debate is taking place there and they are not responding to it.
  •  Respond to all negative statements individually and truthfully.
    • Although many people may not agree with everything Chick-Fil-A has been saying, the company continues to voice their opinions and in turn, are receiving public support from their loyal customers.
    • This allows those in opposition to see that the company is attempting to handle the situation, even if it is not how they would like it to be dealt with.

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