We know how much the internet has changed the way businesses are perceived in the public domain. People can publish all kinds of constantly on Youtube, Facebook and Twitter, in no time at all, often with embarrassing consequences for businesses.
Rather than ignore this reality or try to wish it away, many business leaders, including those from the franchise world, are urging companies to embrace transparency. Franchises, in fact, have been on the receiving end of some really bad social media publicity, but their varying responses prove that transparency can really affect the way a business rebounds from bad PR.
Take Domino's. They were on the receiving end of really bad publicity after some unseemly videos surfaced online. But they used one unfortunate moment in one franchise to relaunch their franchise vision. They changed their food recipe and utilized the web as a tool to better communicate and improve its product and services. Sales spiked accordingly.
Writing on the Boston College Corporate Citizenship website recently, Bob Langert, VP of Social Responsibility at McDonald's, drove the point home even further during a 10-point discussion of lessons learned from a lifetime in business:
With the power of the Internet, there is now a very radical transparency. People can get information and use this publicly in a matter of seconds. Take this seriously and dedicate resources to providing good and accurate information to as many stakeholders as you can.
McDonald's has great experience in dealing with various lobbies that against its food and ethos, so this advice should be taken very seriously. When bad PR comes your way via the web, don't hide from it. Just be prepared.