There was surprise and relief when millions of people heard about the women who were freed from a kidnapper in Cleveland. There was also an interesting reaction from McDonald’s about the incident on Twitter. The man who helped to free the women happened to be enjoying a meal from the fast food chain at the time he helped them out. Reacting to this, McDonald’s had this to say on Twitter:
“We salute the courage of Ohio kidnap victims & respect their privacy. Way to go Charles Ramsey- we’ll be in touch.”
As you can see from the link above, the reaction from users was mixed. Some praised the company (and Ramsey), while other users used the word “shameless” in relation to McDonald’s and scolded the company (“You’re playing tragedy for PR”) and wondered about privacy issues (what does ‘we’ll be in touch’ mean exactly?).
This USA Today article similarly took a mixed view of McDonald’s tweet with some of the PR people interviewed praising them while others condemned them.
So, did McDonald’s make a smart PR move or not?
Think about this- do you think that their PR team would have created a TV ad based on the incident? Of course not.
How about a public statement from the company about the kidnapping incident? Well, you can consider a tweet on their official account to be exactly that- it’s a public statement made the company, which isn’t a press release as we once knew it to be, but does serve as a short form press statement in the social media world.
As such, since the company has had to explain what it meant by ‘we’ll be in touch’ (they’ll do it privately), they’re not planning to do any ad based on the incident (or so we hope) and since they’re not making a long-form press statement otherwise about this, you can probably conclude that they should have thought a little more before making that tweet.
Maybe just saying the first part of the tweet without the ‘we’ll be in touch’ would have spoken for itself since the public already knew about the McDonald’s connection in the story. As the USA Today article notes “Just because you do something for someone… you don’t have to tweet about it..”