I saw an incident recently where a pretty well-known chain was accused online by an influential social media person of racism. It was apparently due to some interaction at one of the franchise location. The company wanted to let the franchise owner deal with it and shut off their social media to try to stay out of the limelight.
I get it. The matter didn’t involve any of their direct employees, and they’re not exactly sure what happened. The fact of the matter remains is that it’s their brand and any perceived lack of action, lack of empathy if you will, can impact all the other locations that are company owned. When you’re a big brand or at least one that has a good following, even regionally, you’re going to have to take ownership of crisis PR situations, be it your doing or not.
In this case, I would have recommended that the company make a public statement that they were working the franchise owner to find out what happened, that they take all accusations of racism seriously and will make sure that they understood what the policies and procedures were. However, I’m concerned when a company doesn’t respond to something like that. What they do by default is give the other side credence. In this case, I don’t believe a damn word of it. I think that the social media influencer was just out and out lying. I don’t know why. Maybe that person didn’t get their way. It doesn’t matter. When a company doesn’t show at least empathy and action for the situation, I think they’re going to give the other person an excessive level of credibility.