How-To Handle a Social Media Crisis: McDonald’s Sets The Record Straight

 A web hoax that falsely suggests McDonald’s is charging African-American customers more because of a string of robberies is causing a PR headache for the company.

Beginning sometime Saturday morning, a photograph of what appears to be an official notice in the window of a McDonald’s restaurant telling customers that blacks will be charged $1.50 extra “as an insurance measure due in part to a recent string of robberies” began circulating online.

It’s not clear who created the hoax image. Predictably, it appears to have first appeared on 4chan. But there’s no doubt it’s fake as the toll-free number given at the bottom of the sign is actually the number for … Kentucky Fried Chicken.

Still, the photo, along with the words “Seriously McDonald’s” gained traction on Twitter by Saturday afternoon.

In response, McDonald’s sent out a McTweet on Saturday: “That pic is a senseless and ignorant hoax. McD’s values ALL our customers. Diversity runs deep in our culture on both sides of the counter.”

But, Twitterers continued to share the picture, with that same message of condemnation: “Seriously McDonald’s” until it became a Top Trend.

On Sunday, McDonald’s tweeted: “That Seriously McDonalds picture is a hoax.”

The latest response seems to have helped keep the photo from spreading too much further–but there’s no telling how many people out there still think the photo is for real.

I just want to say kudos to McDs on this one. This is an excellent example of a company responding the right way to a social media headache. They’ve set the record straight in the channel where there is the most activity (Twitter) and also on Facebook to keep the story at bay. Any greater response from the company would only shine a larger spotlight on the story. At this point reporters/bloggers who talk about it will most certainly quote McDonald’s and therefore the truth will out.

It’s so nice to see a brand not over-react to a social media crisis. Here’s hoping that’s a sign of the times.

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