Did a Reporter Make a Mistake with your Story? How to Fix it.

What happens when the media makes a mistake with your message? Or worse, customer backlash ignites following the news? Wendy’s is a great example of how to quickly get the record straight before that incorrect messaging starts gathering momentum. 

To summarize, Wendy’s announced on yesterday’s earnings call that they were going to add digital menus that could change prices with demand. Earnings calls are usually messaged around analysts and investors, so the idea that the fast food chain found new ways to increase profits was probably perceived as a friendly audience. But I don’t think their internal comms team adequately debated how their customers would react to the news.

It only takes one reporter to coin a popular phrase for a story to go viral. And that’s what happened here. A reporter compared the surge pricing to Uber and the backlash was underway. It’s now trending on Linkedin. Yahoo has the story on their front page. And any customer, like myself who loves Wendy’s, is probably questioning that loyalty at dinner time if higher prices are sneaking into my bill.

What did Wendy’s do right?

They quickly addressed the miscommunication and said no one ever discussed raising prices during dinner. As a long time journalist with NBC and CBS, I suspect the raising prices message was likely inferred- if not outright stated to specific reporters. Reporters don’t make up quotes, especially if the message describes a menu that will change prices based on demand. I suspect Wendy’s executives quickly recognized the customer backlash and had a change of mind.

And that’s ok. If you realize a policy or pricing change wasn’t perceived as expected, it’s okay to change it and communicate it to the media. Just change it before the story goes viral. In the case with Wendy’s, the overall message should have been more clear. You can’t assume a message will be correctly interpreted with reporters. Say what you mean, and mean what you say. If you’re discussing a critical component of your business model, be clear about it. Don’t mince words.

There are still some outlets writing about this surge pricing today. The mixed messaging won’t end overnight even if Wendy’s adapted to the message overnight. Lesson for you: if the media gets your story wrong or the message is misconstrued, be quick to address it. Don’t wait for it to go viral.

ABOUT MACIAS PR

Finance Monthly named MACIAS PR the 2017-2020 Strategic PR Firm of the Year, and PR Firm of the Year. This was the third year in a row that Finance Monthly recognized our firm. The founder – Mark Macias – is a former Executive Producer with NBC and Senior Producer with CBS in New York. He’s a PR contributor with Entrepreneur and Forbes, providing media analysis, insight and crisis advice. City & State Magazine named him a 2024 top Political PR Player in New York.

Another Crisis Brewing for Elon Musk and Tesla- How to Respond

Most people know Elon Musk is controversial but he’s close to igniting a new crisis with one of his most passionate and loyal groups of Tesla followers.

I wrote an article in Forbes a few years ago that detailed warning signs your brand is about to blow up and a crisis is emerging. If ignored, your brand becomes ripe for a crisis. This latest media coverage on Tesla is a clear warning sign to their stock owners who worry about pricing pressures and future EV sales.

Tesla owners are one of the few remaining groups who have stuck alongside Musk even after his divisive tweets, controversial statements and media comments. The media is now beginning to circle around Teslas that can’t charge in the cold, leaving drivers stranded. Chicago media was all over this story last week, calling Tesla charging stations “car graveyards.”

Another article in the global publication, The Express, is taking this communications crisis to a higher level. The story interviewed angry drivers who had to wait in 45-minute lines in Brooklyn and Queens to charge their vehicles because of a charging station shortage.

Continue reading “Another Crisis Brewing for Elon Musk and Tesla- How to Respond”

Crisis Advice – Release all the Bad News or Drip, Drip, Drip

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in a tough crisis situation. Every day bad news seems to come up, keeping his sexual harassment allegations in the news cycle.

Cuomo tried to apologize but he broke every mistake I laid out in my Forbes editorial – How to Apologize when the Media is Listening. If you read that article, you can learn how to authentically apologize for your mistakes.

So how do you control negative news once it’s out? And when you know more bad news is coming, how do you release it?

The end-game strategy of crisis communications is to get out of the news as quickly as possible. You don’t want any story to linger because as new developments unfold, it keeps your story in the news cycle.

News is always about advancing a story. During my time as Executive Producer with NBC, we would frequently see a story in the morning’s New York Post or Daily News – and try to figure out how to advance it.

Every day new information comes out, the more chances your negative story remains in the news.

Continue reading “Crisis Advice – Release all the Bad News or Drip, Drip, Drip”