Thursday, July 28, 2011

Crisis Communication: KFC Malaysia Food Tampering Scandal and How Facebook Saved the Day

In Jun 11, Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) Malaysia was faced with a potential social media crisis when videos of food tampering by their kitchen staff started circulating on the Internet. As part of its crisis response strategy, KFC Malaysia established a page on its Facebook wall to tell its side of the story and restore consumer confidence.

Like many other crisis communication experts, I attribute KFC Malaysia's success in avoiding a crisis to its timely, open, truthful, Internet present and broadly communicated crisis communication plan – what I have termed the 5 essential elements of a crisis communication plan. This approached effectively enabled KFC Malaysia to seize the information initiative and effectively frame the crisis as the action of a single rogue employee. Additionally, by responding via social media, KFC Malaysia also ensured that their response was on the same platform as the video.

As a crisis communication consultant, I must admit that I was impressed by KFC Malaysia's social media savviness to create a Question and Answer to centralise all feedback related to this matter. While dangerous in the sense that anger feeds upon anger, this forum is nonetheless a useful tool for the organisation to “hear” everything that is being said about it. The organisation can then use the collated “intelligence” to accurately judge consumer sentiments, stakeholder concerns and respond appropriately to it. Furthermore, the forum gives netizens a platform to vent their anger with the knowledge that someone in authority is listening. This cathartic act in itself is useful to dissipate stakeholder anger.

If there is one suggestion that I can give to KFC Malaysia, it is to consider purchasing Google Ad Words related to the crisis. This is because Facebook pages cannot be index by search engines and KFC Malaysia's response is not showing up in searches related to this crisis.

Overall, well done to the PR Team at KFC Malaysia.


For more information about our in-house crisis communications training, email justin[a]


  1. KFC Malaysia had recently responded with a youtube video of their own to address the scandal that went viral on the internet sometime this year. The footages showing KFC employees tampering with the food were discovered in June last year, but the chain restaurant only responded now after the videos were widely circulated.

    To reassure customers, cameras have been installed to monitor kitchen operations since October; and a supervisor has also been appointed to monitor the food preparation process.

  2. If you found the information in this company blog useful, do take our short course on Crisis Communications in the Era of Social Media (


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