[By Alyssa Bellisario]

McDonald’s made headlines on social media in January when it announced on its website that it would be introducing peanuts and tree nuts to their menu items. The recent addition to the menu is the SKOR McFlurry that comes with non-packaged peanuts and tree nuts.

McDonald’s released the following statement: “As a result, all products available at our restaurants may contain or come into contact with peanuts, tree nuts or other allergies. That means the possibility exists for cross-contact between nuts and other menu items.”

Immediately, the public responded angrily on social media suggesting that children and adults with mild to severe nut allergies will not be able to eat at McDonald’s, with some refusing to go there because it isn’t worth the risk.

How can a company control a crisis and manage it effectively without losing sales and customer loyalty?

Here are three tips for handling a company crisis:

  1. Listen and respond to the public’s perception of the issue. The negative comments on social media are a sign that the company should respond or make a statement immediately.
  2. Communicate the story that the company is trying to achieve. For McDonalds, they introduced nuts on their menu to give their customers a diverse range of menu items.
  3. Take responsibility and provide sympathy to the affected population. Prepare an apology statement to be released to those who are now affected by a change and offer sympathy to minimize the risk of backlash.

Having an effective crisis management plan will help minimize the risk and encourage companies to connect with their customers.

(Photo by Daniella Segura via Flickr)