Even though 2013 is only a little week old, there is a crisis brewing for one of the largest fast food chains in the US.  Kentucky Fried Chicken has recently been hit with a viral social media crisis in the last couple of hours.

According to an article published on Mashable, a UK customer named Ibrahim Langoo found what looked like a brain and reported the incident to the staff at the KFC restaurant location.  KFC reviewed the picture that was taken and said that it did not look like a brain, but more like a kidney.

We have a strong presence of KFC here in Kentucky of course – the Yum! Corporation headquarters are located in Louisville. Looking at this case from a PR, social media, and crisis standpoint, there are several things I saw that I would like to point out about this particular case:

  • No mention on corporate website: Based on what is presented on their newsroom, there is no mention of this case or what people can do if they are concerned about this particular food safety issues.
  • Power of pictures: People are captivated not only with stories, but if you are able to provide a compelling visual to enhance this – the more effective this will be.  This was the case here and this turned the photo by Ibrahim go viral.
  • No mention of actions taken on Twitter:  It is interesting to see the KFC Twitter page – it appears that there are a lot of tweets that focus on promotion for the brand or they are autotweets created in advance. This could cause additional challenges and issues for the brand if they do not address this since this is a food safety concern that could do damage for the brand in terms of their reputation.
  • Mentions of previous incidents at KFC:  One of the things that is coming out now is the fact that this same thing has happened previously in 2011.  Like in all crisis situations, if people perceive a crisis event where the organization has a very high level of responsibility towards producing safe products and services, they will definitely blame them more and this could contribute to more reputation damage.
  • Apology from KFC not really clear:  I didn’t see a clear statement from KFC regarding this – I think this is where they could have taken a page out of what Domino’s did to respond to the YouTube crisis back in 2009.

In summary, KFC has to realize that people are going to search more and look for these types of incidents and report them to their followers and communities in social media.  If they get enough traffic, they will be covered by the traditional media – which happened in this case.  They need to take responsibility for their actions and communicate action steps they are going to take to make sure this does not happen again. In addition, engaging and being transparent via social media is going to be crucial in order to minimize the damage that could impact their reputation.

Hope you all are having a great day.

Best Wishes,