Crisis Management–McDonald’s

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On July 23, 2015 the McDonald’s announced more bad news for the company and for investors reporting a “10% drop in quarterly sales and earnings per share” according to CNN Money.

McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook reacted to the news by announcing plans for the company to revamp their menu items including breakfast, “[b]ut Easterbrook said the company is still trying to figure out if all-day breakfast will make economic sense and help simplify the company’s menu.

Franchisee consultant Richards Adams said, “They are going in a bunch of different directions and trying to be all things to all people. That’s been their problem for the last five or six years” (Business Insider, Lutz A., September 21, 2015).

The negative sales trend continued until just recently their “sales at U.S. restaurants open at least 13 months rose 0.9% in the third quarter—beating analysts’ projection for a 0.2% decline and marking the first quarterly increase in that key measure in two years” according to The Wall Street Journal (Jargon, October 22, 2015).

“Nomura Securities analyst Mark Kalinowski found that they typically expect all-day breakfast could boost same-store sales growth in the fourth quarter by 1.5 percentage points and by 1 percentage point over the next 12 months.”

Things are potentially hopeful for McDonald’s, and so far the breakfast menu policy appears to benefit sales. With stability and positive financial outlook investors and public perception of the company should improve.

If I was the Public Relations professional for this corporation, I would seriously consider different policies than Easterbrook. I believe, like franchisee consultant Richard Adams that “they are going a bunch of different directions and trying to be all things to all people.”

While it is good and important for corporations to have community relations and “give back to society,” a prudent choice for McDonald’s would be to maintain as much efficiency as possible in their unique position as it is an organization driven by the classical hierarchical theory, and the main expectation society has upon McDonald’s is to produce quick, reliable, appetizing, and cheap food. If those basic values are lost from the organization as a result of implementing too many new things, the reaction from the public is unpredictable, and there is a greater risk for the company to lose the people’s trust and support while some groups may like new changes.

People expect McDonald’s to stay cheap, and the investor’s public wants them to continue an increase in sales. I believe the breakfast all day policy was a good choice that will continue to benefit the company and its relations with the public that wants a few more tasty choices, but I recommend making prudent implementations that maintain low prices, happy people, and fast food.

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Crisis Management: The GM Ignition Switch

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As of today, the GM motors ignition switch scandal involved faulty cars lead to at least 124 deaths, 17 serious injuries, and 258 minor injuries (David Shepardson, Detroit News Washington Bureau, 2015).

Over a ten year period, the issue was finally clearly addressed. According to CBS News (2014), “GM has acknowledged knowing about the switch problem for more than a decade before it began recalling the cars in February.” General Motors CEO Mary Barra said, “This really hits home for me. We have apologized, but is just one step on the journey to resolve this” (CNNMoney, 2014). Her apology was a small demonstration of mortification in which she admitted guilt.

The two main faulty car parts were the ignition switch and the ignition lock cylinder, and a recall was made for owners of specific cars such as the Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G5 while other some other cars would also be recalled.

Since the recall, General Motors has done various techniques to attempt an image restoration of their brand. A great deal of sacrifice and dedication went into corrective action.

“2.6 million cars worldwide until February 2014” were recalled for evaluation and part replacements, and “[t]his quickly ballooned to nearly 30 million cars by the end of [that same year]” (bbc.com, 2015). Recalling millions of cars was part of their fight to fix the obvious issue that could potentially or already led to other hazardous consequences. The organization couldn’t turn back time, but they could correct their future.

GM transferred a “$900 Million Forfeiture” to the United States government for the “criminal charges” against them (justice.gov, 2015). Compensation by paying this hefty fine was another attempt to restore the company’s image. The fine was a way to reduce the offensiveness of the ignition switch disaster, and it also protected the company from further prosecution charges from the government.

The company also paid “at least $1 million (…) to the families of those who died as a result of a defect in GM cars[, and t]he automaker will give another $300,000 for each surviving spouse and dependent” (Katie Lobosco, 2014). This second act of compensation to the victim and the victim’s families is much more important to their reputation and the public eye, because the audience most affected by their actions were the consumers. The remuneration was a way to settle the issue for their damages and suffering, and it provided them with some financial support.

GM is experiencing an issue that they are likely to never forget. The company did almost everything they could do to offer compensation for their mishaps, but perhaps money isn’t what every or even most of the public really desire. A simple sincere apology to individuals, and acknowledgment for the responsibility for more lives is what some desire, and money cannot always express the concern and care some individuals will crave that only can be felt from personal and candid responses from individuals within the company. Tell the truth: Public Relations rule number one. It’s too bad that General Motors didn’t come out with the truth ten years earlier, but honesty still is the best policy.

Optimism: Brandon Howard’s Story

Finding Joy in Any Circumstance

Brandon Howard is from Virginia. He loves riding his unicycle, playing his guitar, and just being happy. When he was 16, he went through a series of unfortunate events that could have made him bitter and depressed, but instead, he overcame his circumstances with resilience and joy.

While heading to a date with his unicycle, he was hit by a car and life-flighted out by helicopter in serious condition. A few months later, his family’s house burned down. His nephew died. In spite of these tragedies, he stayed grateful for the life he had, and for the people close to him.

He is now a happy, healthy adult. He continues to enjoy life, and he can be seen carrying around his guitar and riding his unicycle. He also gives presentations.

What is Optimism?

Optimistic is seeing the good in any situation. According to the online Cambridge Dictionary, optimism is “the tendency to be hopeful and to emphasize or think of the good part in a situation rather than the bad part, or the feeling that in the future good things are more likely to happen than bad things.”

What does Psychology Say About Optimism?

According to Psychology Today, optimism can positively affect mental and even physical health. I definitely can see the physical benefits that Brandon has. He is very strong and appears healthy. I believe part of this is because he cares about life and he is grateful for his body, so he does his best to maintain it.

While optimism is a great thing, Psychology Today says “tempering a sunny disposition with a small dose of realism or even pessimism might be the best way to build resilience and achieve one’s goals.”

How I know Brandon

Brandon is a friend I met at my apartment complex this semester. We both live at Greenbrier Apartments. It was his first semester, this is hopefully my last, but we both happen to have the same major: Communication with an emphasis in Organizational Advocacy.

He is a very energetic person, and he was excited to find out we had the same major when we first met. We both like to read good books, and he told me a little about himself. I eventually found out that he had a near-death-experience, and I wanted to know more. When I told him I needed to find someone to tell their story, he happily volunteered. He is even  a certified motivational speaker

I was happy that he volunteered to let me do a story about him because I wanted to learn more about what happened to him. I remember hearing him mention dying him a car accident while we were in Sunday School class together.

One memory I have with Brandon was when I received a box of food after handing out flyers at a food bank for my internship. I brought the box home, and I decided to ask if Brandon would like any of the food. He was super excited that I shared half my food with him, and he had a prayer of gratitude with me.

 

Learn New Things

As I worked on a new video project with my assigned partner, Johan Sanchez, we interviewed Jessica Harmon, a Latin Dance instructor at Brigham Young University-Idaho.

What I learned from this experience is that trying new things can teach us, help us to grow, give us new opportunities, help us make friends, and allow us to have fun.

Latin dance, or any dance for that matter, can help us learn about new cultures and give us experience. Try something new, even if it is a little out of your comfort zone, and you may discover a new passion.

Crisis Management: The House GOP and Speaker of the House

Today (October 8, 2015) Republican Kevin McCarthy just dropped out of the race to be the nominee as potential Speaker of the House. After former Speaker of the House John Boehner resigned from his post, McCarthy stepped forward for the position and vote of congress to accept him. According to Manu Raju and Deirdre Walsh of CNN (2015),”the conservative bloc of lawmakers consistently pressed Boehner to take a harder line with Obama and Democrats, a strategy Boehner, a consummate deal-maker, did not always embrace.”

Boehner struggled to effectively lead the House and his fellow constituents because of his moderate views that conflicted with the extreme views on both sides of the isle, as a result he felt he had to leave for a representative that was able to agree with a greater majority of Republicans. “This isn’t about me. It’s about the people, it’s about the institution,” said Boehner.

Boehner was humble and smart in his decision to resign, in regard to increasing unification of his party. In the realm of image restoration, he took corrective action that gives him points with conservatives, and conservatives were ultimately the base of his party.

McCarthy probably realized that trying for the speakership would go against the intent of Boehner’s resignation since “Boehner allies [were] pushing hard for his chief deputy, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy” likely for his similarity to Boehner. After announcing his resignation McCarthy said, “If we’re going to unite and be strong, we need a new face to do that” (Kevin McCarthy drops out of House speaker race, CNN 2015).

One crisis in the case of Speaker involved the demand for better representation of the people. According to Wall Street Journal’s Aaron Zitner’s (September 25, 2015) article, polling data of “72% of Republican primary voters said they were dissatisfied with the ability of Mr. Boehner and GOP Senate leader Mitch McConnell to achieve Republican goals.”

The second potential crisis was Boehner’s resignation as Speaker of the House.

How has the resignation of Boehner and McCarthy’s withdrawal affected the public image of the “Grand Old Party?”

As a conservative, I personally see it as reformation and possible positive restoration of the Republican party’s good name. Changing leadership gives House Republicans an opportunity to show a greater commitment to conservative policies that have been neglected. I respect Boehner and McCarthy for their withdrawal from the political leadership position for potential candidates that will appease more of the conservative base. According to this years Gallup polls (JANUARY 9, 2015), “conservatives remain [the] largest ideological group, at 38%.”

Crisis Management: Paula Deen

On June 26, 2013, Paula Deen appeared on the Today Show to discuss her use of the N-word and the regret for her behavior after former employee, Lisa Jackson filed a discrimination lawsuit against Deen and her brother.  The news video report of the scandal was given by NBC’s Mara Schiavocampo.

According to Jackson, Deen said (commenting on her brother’s wedding), “What I would really like is a bunch of little n*****s to wear long sleeve white shirts, black shorts and black bow-ties…now that would be a true Southern wedding, wouldn’t it?” That was not the only problem reported by Jackson.

According to transcripts of Deen’s court hearing, on other occasions Deen admitted “Yes, of course” she had used the N-word “probably in telling [her] husband” after she was held at gunpoint by a black man (Transcript p. 23). Paula continued when probed further that “that’s just a word we use as time has gone on. Things have changed since the ‘60s in the south. And my children and my brother object to that word being used in any cruel or mean behavior” (Transcript p. 24).

Deen then went on to apologize to the public as displayed in the end of Shiavocampo’s video package saying, “I beg for your forgiveness,” but her prior prestige and position were lost.

Deen went through a public relations crisis as a result of this case and the bad publicity that it brought to her. She lost her job at the Food Network, and then laid low on the celebrity radar for a couple of years.

I believe that Deen was mostly honest in her testimony: she herself was in conflict with her cultural upbringing, the intent of her words and how the publics within society can be offended.

Now she is coming back into the public eye as a contestant on “Dancing with the Stars” and advertising for her new book “Paula Deen Cuts the Fat: 250 Favorite Recipes All Lightened Up.” She has changed from being the woman that people would jokingly say loves butter to saying, “it is about living a healthier life” (Press release: Paula Deen Releases New Cookbook). She is also attempting to build friendships with African American celebrities such as recently mentioned in recent news stories about Tracy Morgan and referring to Oprah while being interviewed on “Dancing with the Stars.”