On Managing a Crisis: Chipotle

February 8, 2016

by Vianka McConville

Is my Chipotle burrito safe to eat?

After many months, I’ve decided that, for me, the answer is yes.

Since August 2015, Chipotle has battled food safety concerns from outbreaks of norovirus, Salmonella and E. coli in numerous states.  I will admit I was one of those people who stayed away from the chain for the past six months due to a fear of getting sick.  However, I’ve changed my tune and can’t wait to devour a burrito in the near future.

Here’s why I’ve decided to give Chipotle another try:

Communication about the incidents has been transparent and readily available, information is thorough, and apologies feel heartfelt and honest.

The level of effort that Chipotle has put into communicating to me that the chain has taken every possible step to ensure my safety earned back my trust.

That’s good public relations.

The battle is far from over for the Mexican chain.  The good fight continues today with a company-wide meeting on food safety that shuts all restaurant doors until 3 p.m., but invites everyone in on the conversation by live-tweeting the event.  As a competing Mexican grill, Moe’s ran a full-page ad in USA Today touting its restaurants would be open all day.

There’s a long road ahead, but Chipotle has a great compass in hand.

What Shadows are You Hiding from?

February 4, 2014

kmartin by Kerry Martin

This past weekend’s Super Bowl stole all the major headlines, but the smaller news story was that Punxsutawney Phil predicted six more weeks of winter.  While the famous groundhog’s weather forecasts might not always be perfect, he does share a lesson for those who think they can hide from their shadows.

In any business, you’re going to run into problems, threats or full-on crises, and the most important thing to do is address them with a planned communications strategy.  Unfortunately, you’ll also run across senior managers and CEOs who take an approach that effectively hides from the problem—whether they’re denying there’s anything wrong, waiting until the situation blows over or passing to the attorneys to handle.

You need to be out in front of your issues, communicating where appropriate, taking action when it’s needed and always assuming responsibility for your mistakes.  There are plenty of other posts on this blog that offer suggestions for handling crises, and all of them advocate proactive, sincere communication.

So take it from Punxsutawney Phil … if you hide from your shadow, prepare for a long, hard winter.

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