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Chipotle-Branding, Crisis Communication & Media Training

By Suzanne Spurgeon  December 14, 2015

Promoting and protecting the brand are top priorities of any business--large or small.  Keeping your messaging consistant across media platforms is key.  You shouldn't have one tone or voice for traditional media and  then come off completely different on social media.  The style and format are different to be sure, but your messaging or branding should not vary by medium. 

Chipotle's brand has certainly been tested in the past two months--since the e-coli and norovirus scares. The company's stock plummeted--that is until the CEO publically apologized and pledged to raise its safety standards far above the norm.  This is a great way to begin to build back the public's confidence in a brand that has been tarnished.  Company officials took to the airwaves and to social media to get their word out.

Read the latest from Reuters here

 Chipotle has always touted its high standards for fresh produce and meats, and its ethics.  Company officials are sticking with that and betting consumers will trust them enough to come back.  

I'll admit I have stay cleared of Chipotle during this crisis.  I would feel more confident if the source of the illness was determined. But what if no exact cause is uncovered? The company has obviously rolled out a long-range crisis communication plan. No doubt the CEO and other spokespeople have gone through media traning so they are sure to stay on message.

Of course the best time to hold media training and crisis communication drills is before a crisis hits.  Too many businesses have learned the hard way that fumbling in the first hours or days of a crisis is very costly.  I have conducted crisis communication/media training workshops for airlines, rail services, energy firms and other high profile industries.  They don't wait until a plane crashes, a train derails, or an explosion occurs to prepare.  Hopefully these "what if's" won't happen, but if they do, it is so important to respond quickly, passionately, and accurately.


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