How Does a Brand Stop a Hoax? By Rallying Their Ambassadors

About a year ago we began hearing some unsettling stories about our favorite fast food franchise, McDonalds. Specifically, that the chain was setting us back about 50 years by charging African-American customers an extra $1.50 as “an insurance policy due in part to a recent string of robberies.” Despite the fact that we eventually learned it was a hoax, this photo circulated the interwebs for a while. And then the whole thing just sort of died.

However, that wasn’t the last time this scandal would rear its ugly head.

About a week ago, this ridiculous meme began making the rounds again. Thistime, accompanied by the Twitter hashtag #SeriouslyMcDonalds. The whole thing seems to have died down now and McDonalds did respond from their official Twitter account, but the question remains – How does a brand keep a hoax like this from coming back?

As a brand, it’s important to surround yourself with a network of influencers and ambassadors. This way, at the first sign of trouble, you can reach out to them for support in squashing even the most vicious of rumors. While it’s imperative that you respond to your entire network “officially,” it’s equally important that you deploy your ambassadors as well.

Jonha over at I Just Did suggests controlling the bleeding with an alternate campaign – In this case, the use of the hashtag #SincerelyMcDonalds. An alternate campaign that you can get your ambassadors and other influential connections behind can go a long way. Especially when that alternate campaign focuses on the good you do as a brand.

As we’ve seen in the McDonalds case, no brand is safe from an Internet-based, viral hoax. However, all brands have the ability to protect themselves while keeping the integrity of the brand intact. In the end, a carefully crafted network of influencers and ambassadors and a well thought-out crisis communication plan can help save your brand online.

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