And the beat goes on … an unending flurry of articles, blogs, Facebook and Twitter posts, radio and TV shows, and public outcries … about the Chick-fil-A controversy that put Dan Cathy, the chain’s beleaguered president, smack in the middle of a major PR crisis when he publicly made statements opposing gay marriage.
There are many ways to handle questions from a reporter. One way to answer is to not answer — at least not directly — saying something to the effect of … “This issue has nothing to do with Chick-fil-A’s products and is one that’s best left to the government and politicians.” His comments were anything but that and not surprisingly, they set off a firestorm that continues today.
In addition to stirring up the public at large, his comments caught the Chick-fil-A headquarters in Atlanta, its franchise owners and their employees off guard.
Why should a CEO avoid commenting on such an issue? Because addressing such an emotionally charged topic either way is guaranteed to offend a portion of the company’s customers and potential customers because of its inherent controversy.
Why take a public stand on an issue that really has nothing to do with your day-to-day business? It’s a no-win situation. No business — corporate or otherwise — is in the business of insulting its customers nor the public. That’s why it’s called public relations.
As a PR professional, watching this story unfold has been interesting to observe and will, no doubt, make a great case study for PR students.
In this post by Steve Cody at Inc.com, he talks about where Cathy went wrong and how he could have handled the situation better.
Read it here for yourself: http://smallbusiness.yahoo.com/advisor/chick-fil-5-most-boneheaded-133815760.html.
Doreen Poreba, APR, is an accredited public relations professional with more than 25 years of experience on both sides of the media fence in both PR and journalism. She is the founder of The PR Czar® Inc., a full service PR agency serving the Treasure Coast, Palm Beaches and now with the Internet — the world!