Apology a Way to Communicate with Cients

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After experiencing a hiccup with their deliveries, KFC ran out of chicken and was forced to close about 900 restaurants across the UK. It was not a surprise that their chicken-loving customers were puzzled and upset on that fateful day. Some frustrated customers took their complaints about the closures to twitter and trended the hashtag “#KFCCrisis”. Others threatened to go to other food chains and even went the extra mile to call the police to express their disappointment over the closure.

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Even though DHL, the courier company that was working with KFC at that point of time, was mainly to be blamed for delay, KFC did not try to censor the issue and instead professionally addressed the crisis. They launched a creative apology campaign to acknowledge that they were indeed forced to close some of their stores due to the shortage of chicken and apologise to their unhappy customers. Their apology ad, crafted by a creative agency named Mother, who is based in London, showed KFC’s name on an empty bucket, being rearranged to “FCK” to indicate that they messed up. It also included a tagline “We’re Sorry” with a short apology message below and the ad was being shared across social media.

Surprisingly, the ad was witty and funny enough to lighten the mood of their forgiving customers that accepted KFC’s apology. Some even flocked to twitter to praise KFC because they love their apology. In my opinion, this is one good example of a social media “public relations” case because KFC managed to stay one step ahead and minimise reputational damage by communicating transparently (and humorously) with their consumers using social media.

In contrast to KFC, EasyJet has not been so lucky in terms of maintaining good rapport with their customers through social media public relations. On a Tuesday in August last year, a twitter user named Matthew Harris tweeted a photo of a passenger that was sitting on a “backless” seat on an EasyJet flight from Luton to Geneva. It was also revealed that the passenger eventually got moved to a spare seat only after the flight was full.

However, amid all the backless seat jokes going around on twitter, EasyJet responded to his tweet by asking Matthew Harris to remove the photo first before asking him to directly message them more information about the situation. This appalling response was the reason why Matthew Harris’s tweet became viral and EasyJet soon became under fire for trying to censor their mistake. Despite responding quite fast, there was no indication whether an apology was made by EasyJet to the passenger on the backless seat. The poor reaction from the airline company only helped to escalate the crisis and made more Twitter users furious.

I consider EasyJet’s response to Matthew Harris to be a bad example of social media public relations case because EasyJet was not able to make full use of their social platform to minimise the impact of the situation. They did not show that they care about their customers. Instead, they were quick to try and conceal the problem but were not quick enough to apologise to users who might have lost their trust when seeing the photo.  

29 April 2022

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