Monday, April 14, 2008

Can Negative PR Result in a Positive Outcome?

Jennifer Laycock tackled the issue of how negative campaigns against competitors rarely serve a positive outcome in her post, Spite is not a Marketing Strategy. Jennifer encourages companies to make themselves stand out from their competitors in a different way, a way that highlights something positive about their company.

In her blog, Jennifer used the example of Steak 'n Shake and Culvers:

Earlier this year, a Steak and Shake landed itself in a firestorm of negative press when it refused service to a deaf woman who was unable to order from the drive through speaker. Smaller chain Culver's received some nice positive press for their innovative drive-thru accommodations for the hearing impaired.

I find Jennifer's post to be a timely one, as this morning, I am heading out to Culver's to film a short documentary about drive-thru access for deaf, hard of hearing and speech-challenged persons. I've embraced the Culver's chain and give them my business, because they truly make me feel welcomed in their drive-thrus as a deaf person.

Steak 'n Shake still has time to turn the negative publicity into a wonderful PR campaign for their company. I am asking the corporation to consider putting in the Order Assist system in their 400 plus restaurants. The cost of putting in Order Assist is cheaper than what they spend on commercials for their restaurants. Imagine the press they will receive in the restaurant business for this decision.

It has been many weeks since the Steak 'n Shake incident unleashed a firestorm of response across the internet, and I'm waiting to hear from the corporation about the direction they plan to go in to make their drive-thrus accessible. I am hoping that they will move toward providing drive-thru access. Later today, Diversity, Inc. will have a video interview about the Steak 'n Shake incident on their website.

Stay tuned.

Update: Diversity, Inc. video interview with Karen Putz


OCDAC said...

Negative PR works best! I seen it.

I am Trish Marie said...

One would hope they would choose to turn this into the most positive situation they can. Admit they made a mistake. Make the neccessary changes. Hopefully.

VAL said...

I love watching favorite part "wait a minute, I'm not done WITH YOU!"'re making history Karen.

Meryl said...

I can't recall a real-life example of where bad PR turned into good PR -- but it has happened plenty. It's how the company handles the PR / crisis that can make a difference.

If we don't make mistakes, then we're not pushing ourselves.

Jim said...

Not sure if a company can recover form bad press. They could change it if they stay on top if it. However, companies like Steak and Shake are so quiet and we don't know what they are up to. They are so slow that we forget them but remember their bad press.

I say, if you are too slow, don't bother.