For the past several years, the fast-food chicken chain, Chick-fil-A, has been embroiled in repeated political and religious controversies. For the most part, the company has bobbed and weaved its way around, and through all the Public Relations issues with a steady direction, and the unflagging support of its loyal patrons.
But, this week, a Chick-fil-A in Alabama did something so apolitical, and kind, that it got the country talking about the chicken chain for the first time in years without a political asterisk attached. The single act of one manager became a PR win for an entire brand.
During the snarling horror that was the recent snow and ice storm that shut down much of metro Atlanta and Birmingham, there were several terrible stories, and stories of heroes doing tireless work to save those trapped in cars, and stranded on frozen highways.
Then there was the restaurant manager who looked out and saw hundreds trapped in their cars, hungry and cold. He chose to feed them. Now, you might think he saw these folks as a gift-wrapped customer base. Instead, he invited them inside to get warm, and enjoy some chicken sandwiches on the house. The grateful — and cold — people crowded into the restaurant, and dug into the food.
Thawed out with full bellies, they were better able to deal with the horror that waited for them back out on the highway. The local news covered the story, and because it was Chick-fil-A, that single act of goodwill and humanity became about the entire brand. See, said supporters, Chick-fil-A people really do care! The heartwarming story turned into a rallying cry on social media.
The name of that solitary manager, Mark Meadows, might be forgotten. But you can bet the story never will. Perhaps in many ways, this is a lesson that the GOP needs to learn in order from Chick-fil-A — the lesson of staying true to one’s ideals, but adapting concepts which resonate with a much larger base.
This was a PR victory — but also a people victory.
Ronn Torossian is one of America’s foremost Public Relations executives as founder/CEO of 5WPR, a leading independent PR Agency. The firm was honored as PR Firm of the Year by The American Business Awards, and has been named to the Inc. 500 List. Torossian is author of the best-selling "For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results with Game-Changing Public Relations." For more of Ronn Torossian's reports, Go Here Now.
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