When it comes to public relations, it may seem like a good idea to keep the blame for a mishap as far away from you and your company as possible. This tactic, however, can have many unforeseen and devastating consequences. In the end, it is better to acknowledge the mistake and attempt to fix it rather than shoving the blame onto someone else. This tactic of placing blame has backfired for KFC and has resulted in a scandal that will do no good for the company as a whole.
It is becoming more and more important for companies to monitor their Internet presence. The Internet continues to grow, and more people than ever before have access to the limitless information on the web. This means that anything a company says or does can be easily found by millions of people, and this can quickly impact a company’s reputation. This is why PR is more important than ever before and why KFC now faces a public relations nightmare.
Within nineteen months, KFC has faced two food scandals. The most recent in China was the discovery that one of the suppliers of meat for the popular food chain was using tainted and expired products. This is a very dangerous health violation that could result in serious illness for anyone who ate the bad meat.
The immediate response of Yum! Brands, the parent company of KFC, was to cut ties with the supplier and place all blame on the meat processing company, Shanghai Husi, and its Illinois-based parent company, OSI Group. As the investigation continues, Yum! bemoans its lost profits while OSI’s chief executive has made a formal public apology for the illegal actions of Shanghai Husi.
This particular PR nightmare could be handled in a number of different ways, but by shirking any blame or responsibility and only demonstrating concern about profits and the bottom line, KFC and Yum! Brands has gone in a direction that will limit the future trust and confidence of consumers. When a company suffers a scandal of this magnitude, it is better to shoulder the responsibility and communicate with the public the safeguards that will be put in place to prevent the problem from occurring again rather than simply placing the blame onto someone else.
The problem with the blaming tactic is the Yum has given no indication of what it will do to prevent this from happening with a new supplier. There is no indication that they have learned from their mistakes and will work to protect their customers in the future. Instead, there is only the sense that all they are worried about is the bottom line and that any new supplier will not be monitored.
OSI certainly has a responsibility for this situation. This company has handled the scandal much better than Yum. OSI came right out and issued a public apology rather than trying to place the blame elsewhere. This company took responsibility for the issue and has a plan to prevent anything similar from happening in the future.
When it comes to a scandal like KFC is suffering, it is more important to restore public confidence than to worry about profit. Profit will not increase if people do not trust the company. By putting the blame elsewhere and not shouldering any of the responsibility themselves, Yum and KFC have hindered their public relations future.