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Public Relations: KFC

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Table of contents

  1. Background and Situation
  2. Goal objectives
  3. Programming (Planning and Execution)
  4. Conclusion
  5. References

Organizations and companies all around the world use public relations to build beneficial relationships with members of the public to ensure a mutual co-existing between the two groups. Public relations includes a communication process that most companies, firms, organizations, and at times individuals employ to develop a strategic relationship that has mutual benefits between them. The core objectives of public relations are usually to uphold a positive status of the brand with clients, customers, the public, investors, employees, and stakeholders. Public relations works differently with advertising in that it does not involve buying ads or writing stories rather, agencies at public relations promote organizations and their brands through using editorial content that can appear on news channels, magazines, television programs, and blogs. The present essay analyzing one of the public relation cases that happened recently and discus how it affected the public.

Background and Situation

The Kentucky Fried Chicken is American based. It has over 20,000 locations around the world scattered in around 136 nations of the world. KFC was founded during the great depression when the founder Colonel Harland started selling fried chicken from the roadside near his home. With time, the first ever KFC restaurant was opened in 1952 with the place specializing in fried chicken although there were other products being sold as well. The brand was one of the initial companies in the USA to establish other restaurants outside the country to nations like Canada, Jamaica, Mexico, and the United Kingdom. Due to the overwhelming situation with the brand, Colonel Sanders sold the company to investors being led by John Y. Brown who still has ownership to the restaurant to date (Fekete, 2003, p. 45).

An advertisement in the United Kingdom national press as given out by one of the marketers of KFC revealed that the brand was currently at that time, chicken restaurant that has no chicken. The company went through a crisis in February 2018 where it had challenge with its supply chain forcing it to close hundreds of restaurants in the United Kingdom. After having problems with supply of chicken, the company was forced to switch delivery companies, an action that led to chicken shortage (Mcgarth, 2018). During the peak of the crisis, the poultry shortage forced the brand to close down close to 646 restaurants out of the total 900 situated in the United Kingdom. There are steps that are necessary in being effective when it comes to preventing conflicts from extending, these steps will be further discussed.

The crisis could have caused the company to lose revenues, brand damage, and get negative reviews from disgruntled customers were it not for the well-executed public relations plan that repaired the damage caused with greater speed. News about the poultry shortage of the company reached the public with hours of the initial problem. Customers became aware of the problem the company was facing and what exactly went wrong that had made the company to find itself in that scenario. The public became aware of the problem, what was being done to fix it, and what had caused it without any form of dishonesty from the management (Griffin, 2006, p. 163).

Goal objectives

As for goal objectives, everything is intended to be fact and all true information being shared with the media and world. As well as the goal to address the crisis that the company was facing promptly by not hiding the whereabouts about any complications or conflicts. To face it head on to where no one can ask any questions in addition to make it public information so that customers could know the set back the company was going through. In the end to come up with a strategy to overcome the crisis and be back to good terms and overall resolve the issue at hand.

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Programming (Planning and Execution)

The media was interested in the crisis the company was going through therefore the company gave out a response labelling the crisis a “triumph.” Experts on public relations and reputation gave out a statement saying KFC’S response to the challenge it was going through was a master class in the crisis communication it had found itself into. The company recognized the mistake it had done by switching Delivery Company for poultry, and used that challenge to turn it into an advantage by using humor to describe it. Overall to be considered effective public relations, research, planning, use of communication, and measurement is necessary (Wilcox et al., 2013, p. 90). When word came around about a chicken fast food chain ran out of chicken, it definitely spread fast, but the approach from the strategy team was a picture of a bucket with the term “FCK” on it that took a humorous approach and led viewers to be more understanding of the situation and giving reasons as to why instead of brushing it off. Agenda setting that was coined by Max MCCombs and Don Shaw was used since they began to headline off not having chicken and being a public discussion allowed them to frame and shape the story and set the agenda of this crisis (Wilcox et al., 2013, p. 144)

Both the supporting communications and the advertising teams of the company were honest and geniuses. The accepted the mistake they had done and described using simple language and injecting humor. In the initial moments when the supply chain broke down, there was little knowledge on when the company would get back on its feet and at this point it could have been easier for the director of the company to hesitate concerning allowing the public to know of the crisis but this was not the case. The company thought it was best to recognize and address the common issues that were being faced by loyal customers and then from there generate a narrative as facts started unfolding.

The company responded with honesty to the public and the media thus its speed of response was determined as the core to correctly managing the crisis successfully. Due to the truth and integrity shown by the company loyal customers of KFC waited patiently until the crisis was solved. The company created fliers and pamphlets that would indicate the availability of chicken for customers so that it would be easier for them to know when there is fried chicken and when it is not available. Due to that, it was easier for the company to operate as it kept records of poultry availability and as a result customer availability as well. The supply shortage affected a large number of restaurants in the UK and not just KFC but when hungry clients took to social media to complain; only KFC came clean to address the issue at hand to make it known to everyone. For that reason, customers became even more loyal to the company thus making it emerge out of the crisis successfully (French & Crabbe, 2010, p. 30).

KFC did a tremendous job transforming a challenging crisis into an advantage and earn more out of it. One thing the company could have done it could have employed a temporary supply company for poultry even more than one to cover up for the time it was experiencing a shortage so that all the 600+ restaurants could remain functional. The problem could have come with switching delivery companies but the moment the company could have started realizing shortages, a smart choice could have been to contract a second and third delivery company. Something else the company could have done is it could try switching or integrating its products and sell some different product apart from the fried chicken so that all the closed restaurants could remain open and functional (Datamonitor 2009). Qualitative research also took place through the usage of staying valid with their facts that makes them seem trustworthy and reliable in addition to projecting to the entire location where the shortages took place to get richer insights through a more thought out process to receive a tremendous quality of results. The conflict management life cycle was used to illustrate the problem through the empty bucket and used proactive stage as to planning out prevention before it gets out of control, strategic through professional action of having media team come up with something to explain, reactive through use of crisis communication, and recovery phase through the reputation and restoring it through supply of chicken again.


Public relations have the capability of reducing a crisis on their terms and strategy companies use that to create good relationships with the public and when activated properly it can save a company from drowning or earn more profits. KFC learnt that the only way it could come out of its crisis victorious was by involving the public and coming clean to them. This strategy worked thus making the KFC public relation case one of the most common successful cases of PR in 2018. I would probably use the contingency continuum by going straight to the pure accommodation part of the scale and having the company concurs with its customers, changes the approaches through making compensation, and even makes a full open expression of remorse for our mistake.


  1. Datamonitor Plc (2009). KFC Case Study: Addressing Recessionary Challenges by focusing on health and value.
  2. Fekete, S. S. & Keith, L. (2003). Companies are people too, discover, develop, and grow your organization (2nd ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
  3. French, P. & Crabbe, M. (2010). Fat China: How expanding Waistlines are changing a nation (Vol. 1, No. 5). New York, NY: Anthem Press.
  4. Griffin, R. W. (2006). Student achievement series: Principles of management. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Company.
  5. Mcgrath, J. (2018). How KFC turned crisis to triumph. Raconteur. Retrieved by
  6. Wilcox, D. L., Cameron, G. T., Reber, B. H., & Shin, J. (2013). Think public relations. Boston: Pearson.

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Public Relations: KFC. (2022, February 17). Edubirdie. Retrieved September 27, 2023, from
“Public Relations: KFC.” Edubirdie, 17 Feb. 2022,
Public Relations: KFC. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 27 Sept. 2023].
Public Relations: KFC [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Feb 17 [cited 2023 Sept 27]. Available from:
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