Be more KFC! Crisis Comms And Brands During COVID-19

Since the rise of the ‘ethical’ consumer, how a business treats its customers and staff has become an increasingly important aspect of a brand’s identity. And, with the prevalence of social media, it is easier than ever for disgruntled customers to vent their outrage to a global audience, creating what can be a hugely damaging backlash. This means that knowing what to do in a crisis is more important than ever.

The Covid-19 crisis has very much brought this into the spotlight with consumers choosing not to buy from brands they feel have ignored their ethics in pursuit of a quick quid. However, there have also been some real winners showing just how it should be done.

So what should you do?

Show that you care – Manchester United legends Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville pledged to keep all staff at Hotel Football in Manchester on full pay throughout the pandemic while opening up their Hotel Football and Stock Exchange hotels to key workers free of charge.

Be first – Home Bargains went early and announced a £30 million fund to support staff who needed to self-isolate during Covid-19, as well as setting aside the first hour of trading each day specifically for the elderly and vulnerable.

Be Honest – KFC are legendary at this, treating the recent chicken shortage with their usual mix of comedy and honesty, something some of the following brands could learn a thing or two from. 

But don’t do this….

Sports Direct decided that following the announcement of the nationwide lockdown they would remain open, requiring staff to continue working throughout the pandemic. Their share price plummeted and hasn’t really recovered since.

Wetherspoons boss, Tim Martin, told workers across the country that they would only be paid up until the date that the pubs were last open until the government was able to fulfil its pledge to pay 80% of their wages.

In times of crisis, it is all too easy to make short-term decisions to protect your business. But, consider the consequences before you act as they are likely to be felt long after life has begun to return to normal.

Take a step back and consider the wider impact. Get some solid advice from a crisis comms specialist like RMS and if in doubt be more KFC, honest, upfront and as transparent as possible.