‘KFC Malaysia Food Tampering Scandal, Youtube and Facebook’, and other recent contributions in our ‘About Media & Reputation’

We open a new series of posts by sharing with you a selection of the contributions published in our daily ‘About Media & Reputation’.

‘About Media & Reputation’ is created by a selection of contributions coming from people I follow at Twitter. Those are mainly experts in brands, reputation and crisis communication. My own Twitter account is @NewsReputation. This publication is powered by paper.li.

We present here a selection of the contributions. We do not necessarily endorse the content in their approach or quality.

Main article is about a reputation crisis propelled and controlled afterwards by social media channel. It was published in our edition of 20 October 2011, “Crisis Communication: KFC Malaysia Food Tampering Scandal and How Facebook Saved the Day”, from cwfong.blogspot.com.

In Jun 11, Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) Malaysia was faced with a potential social media crisis when videos of food tampering by their kitchen staff started circulating on the Internet. As part of its crisis response strategy, KFC Malaysia established a page on its Facebook wall to tell its side of the story and restore consumer confidence.

You can check here the two disgusting videos showing food tampering.

As explained in the article, KFC management reacted using the same tools, and launched a video explaining their views and decisions.

They also opened a new section in Facebook KFC Malaysia, ‘KFC Responds’

We show an example of a TV news covering the affaire. Thanks to KFC response, the core of the news is not focused on the food health scandal, but on KFC management reaction, and on the corrective measures taken by the company.

CW Fong & Associates praise Kentucky Fried Chicken reaction, as an example of well managed reputation crisis:

Like many other crisis communication experts, I attribute KFC Malaysia’s success in avoiding a crisis to its timely, open, truthful, Internet present and broadly communicated crisis communication plan – what I have termed the 5 essential elements of a crisis communication plan

There may be eventually a source of concern with this communication crisis success story. And this is not a CW Fong statement but my own feeling: becoming a reference in how to deal a with social media rooted crisis using social media tools, puts you as a crisis management reference (look, KFC is in my blog, and in CF Fong & Associates site, and in the TV news  presented in this post). This may be new reputation problem for KFC. This crisis was mainly local Malaysian issue, even if it went viral. Now I know about the story through reputation experts. But the bad news is that I discovered the ugly video at the source of the scandal (and I am increasing its visibility, BTW), as it is an essential part of the story. And for me, not as an expert, but as a potential fast food consumer, my perception about KFC quality standards has not really increased. Sorry for Kentucky Fried Chicken.

As for the measures taken by the company to avoid future scandals and restore reputation, we find that they are mainly oriented to a ‘this will never happen again’ strategy (cameras in the kitchens, additional supervising kitchen staff). These measures are urgently needed to restore trust. But this episode hits KFC not only on product quality issues. It also reinforces the bad reputation of fast food companies on labor conditions. Even if this working misbehavior was an exception, it clearly reflects an attitude of lack of professionalism, commitment with the company and absence of passion for work. This attitude is probably in line with the job and salary conditions in this sector. KFC management announces also a ‘process of reviewing our recruitment and training’. It is really hard to imagine that much can change in workers’ motivation and commitment if basic job conditions offered by KFC are not substantially revised. Even if this crisis is considered a success story by many experts in terms of crisis communication and mitigation, it is far from being solved and it is not a zero cost crisis.

PS: I further develop my thoughts on this case thanks to the dialogue with readers in the ‘comments’ section of this post.

Annex 1. See also another case of fast food company crisis
Ratatouille’s friends loving fast food Quick Belleville Paris. An astonishing ‘c’est la vie’ response to a serious reputation scandal.

Annex 2. Other articles in paper.li (not related with food scandal)

Other contributions from 20 October edition:

  • ‘Four Tactics to Use Reverse SEO to Mitigate a Corporate Crisis’, by Julie Ann Rose, what-is-business.com
  • ‘Anticipate, Manage and Resolve a Crisis With PR News’ Just-Published Crisis Management Guidebook’, digitaljournal.com
  • ‘How to Handle a Crisis’ by Aileen Pincus, Business Week
  • European Crisis Competence Barometer
  • ‘How to build your personal brand within a company’ by Jessica Kleiman, The Globe and Mail
Selected contributions in 19 October edition:
  • ‘Crisis Communication: The Role of Employees’, Associatedcontent.com, from CW Fong & Associates
  • ‘5 case studies — Social technology impacting management’, Businessesgrow.com
  • ‘Limited use of sharing buttons shows people’s desire to share links privately’ by Jeff Sonderman, Poynter.org
  • ‘The worst-ever advice about social media’ by Russell Working, Ragan.com


7. Automatically incorporate blog posts onto Twitter.

Jenny Leonard, editor of Futurity, notes a push to automatically link blog or newsletter posts to Twitter and Facebook. “As a colleague once told me, ‘Automation is not social; it’s the opposite of social,'” she says


2. Put the intern in charge of social media.

Stephanie Johnson, director of public affairs at Advocate Health Care, says social media is essential, so “you need a team that is invested in staying on top of these changes and adapting new elements that may benefit your audience.”

Don’t pawn it off on the kids.

Selected contributions in our 18 October edition:

  • ‘BlackBerry Brand Damaged – What’s Next in Crisis PR?’ by Ronn Torossian, Business Insider
  • ‘Service restored, but BlackBerry may never repair its reputation’ by Juliette Garside, The Observer
  • ‘Tell us: Does the death of Dan Wheldon change your mind about race setups?’, USA Today
  • ‘The Worst Thing to Put on Your Company Website’ by Michael Hess, Bnet.com (about captcha use)
  • ‘From a single hashtag, a protest circled the world’, by Ben Berkowitz, Reuters
  • ‘Twitter Will Beat Google+ And Facebook With Simplicity, Says CEO’ by Matt Lynley, Business Insider

9 thoughts on “‘KFC Malaysia Food Tampering Scandal, Youtube and Facebook’, and other recent contributions in our ‘About Media & Reputation’

  1. i have one comment only. This happens everywhere else too, too say you’ve lost interest in KFC, then too bad for you. Other fast food store may also be having this sort of problems and you wont be realizing it because it’s not being made to youtube. So stop being ignorant.

    • I will be grateful if you develop al little bit more your statement about ‘stop being ignorant’.

      In fact, I think that you confirm what it analyzed in this post: “Other fast food store may also be having this sort of problems” Sure. “You wont be realizing it because it’s not being made to Youtube”. Sure. And this is the problem. Mi blog, and the problem that KFC is facing is not about facts, it’s about reputation. And this video is seriously harming KFC brand reputation (and yes, eventually fast food industry reputation in general, but people visualize now KFC).

      All in all, I really doubt that this ‘communication crisis success story’ is really being helpful for KFC interests, as it leads people to watch Youtube food tampering video.

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