Well here's a nightmare no one in business wants to face! But it happens. As a veteran PR woman of 32 years, I can promise you incidents like this happen. And suddenly and without any warning you find out someone who has worked for you, with you, under you, next to you, across from you is a serial killer. Kind of like Dr. Walter Palmer being your dentist.
Fred DeLuca, one of the giants of franchising, is a prince among men. He is one of the greatest leaders in the industry and as unselfish and giving as one can get. Yet, I guarantee you he, or no one else at Subway had a clue about Jared's "secret life". Actually I am pretty sure Jared's wife didn't have a clue about it! What to do when a terrible crisis, totally out of your control, arises? I have experienced and aided in the following crises:
- A male and female housecleaning duo having sex on camera in a client's home as part of an NBC investigative "maid-cam" sting.
- A president of a large smoothie chain being marched out of HQ by police for sexually molesting his 14 year old daughter.
- A franchisee caught peeking through a hole in the ladies' bathroom in his own restaurant location.
- A pizza delivery driver killing a motorcyclist with Jack Daniels found in his back seat.
Can I stop now? Here are the most basic steps to take in a crisis, and hopefully not a very rough one like this one.
- Definitely distance yourself from the culprit as Subway did here. And rightfully so. This has nothing to do with their product or franchisees or Fred DeLuca and HQ. If anything they made a multimillionaire out of this guy and this is how he handled his own great luck and life.
- Develop a sympathetic statement if there are "victims". In the case of an accident of some kind truly express in a one paragraph statement that your thoughts and prayers are with the family.
- Get on a line with your attorney and PR specialist and put together a strategy. You don't want to stonewall the media--but you also don't want to just blab away and put any admission of guilt or liability out there.
- Have a 5-10 step process in your "back of house" for all franchisees, management and their employees similar to this one here.
- Employees should NOT talk to the media but instead politely take contact information from them if they call or show up and promise to deliver it to the right people. Then reach back out with a designated person to the reporter. If not they can easily go rogue with an unflattering story.
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