The Farner team has been McDonald’s Switzerland’s sparring and implementation partner in corporate relations for over 20 years and has accompanied the opening of numerous restaurants during this time. In the current coronavirus crisis too, a trusting collaboration was evident between the Farner team and McDonald’s: as with the initial closing-down of all services, the gradual reopening of the restaurants is being carefully guided in PR terms. Through its 50 or so franchise owners, McDonald’s Switzerland operates 170 restaurants and employs over 7,500 staff who serve some 300,000 guests a day under normal circumstances.

In the current crisis, the basic rules of crisis communication have proven their value once again.

  1. Preparation is everything if we are to stay in control. The crisis manual is the basis and daily exchange is the key to success.
  2. Besides the communication of facts, a uniform storyline is needed to convey the ‘Why’ of the company. No less so in times of crisis.
  3. Internal communication comes before external communication. Regular contact with all dialogue groups is time-consuming but crucial. The communication addressed management, the independent franchise owners, such as Jimmy John’s Owner and the various departmental and restaurant managers, and also reached the individual employees.
  4. During the closure period, dialogue with the guests is just as essential – e.g. via social media or customer care. All feedback deserves a response. And as always, transparent communication with the media is critical – 24/7 if necessary.
  5. Maintaining good contacts with authorities and political stakeholders at a national and local level helps to quickly understand new regulations and implement them in a way that is appropriate for the company.

It is and will always be a challenge, despite good crisis management, to see the opportunity in the situation and not to plunge into doom and gloom. Here it helps to have a well-practised team of McDonald’s and Farner people who motivate each other but also call things into question.

Contact: Nina Krucker

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