Chipotle’s “Guacpocalypse” Exemplifies Traditional PR Practices

Chipotle announced in a small section of its annual report that climate changes may stop the company from serving guacamole for a short period of time. This caused a bit of outrage from consumers. photo(2)

The story went viral on Tuesday after blog Think Progress posted a story reporting that Chipotle included a filing in the past month reporting that increasing food prices due to climate change may result in the company halting the sale of guacamole rather than paying the increased prices.

Chipotle spokesperson Chris Arnold assured that the section about climate change possibly stopping the store’s sale of guacamole was a regulatory filing. This disclosing is listed in the risk factors section of the company’s 10-K.

Chipotle spokespeople spent Wednesday afternoon aggressively spreading the word that consumers should not worry.

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The company adamantly preached that this is a normal, routine and regulatory part of a company’s annual report and this is not the first time the company has included something like this in the report.

This mini guacpocalypse crisis (No, I didn’t make up this word. I’m only that clever in my dreams) caused some uproar from Chipotle’s consumers, but the company did a good job of communicating its key messages to the general public.

Many articles on multiple media outlets put the guacpocalypse rumors to rest on Wednesday, including this article from NBC. It is articles like these that make it obvious that Chipotle worked in alignment with the news media to be sure that the correct messages were portrayed to the public. This is traditional PR at its best.

There was some communication from Chipotle spokespeople and news reporters about the truth of the guacpocalypse on Twitter and other social media platforms, but the vast majority of the messages were communicated through traditional news media outlets. This is a very important fact to recognize.

Many PR professionals argue that traditional PR has lost its momentum. News releases and print media could be on its way out, with social media coming in to take over the ball game. But that hasn’t quite happened yet.

This mini crisis proves a great point.  In this case, Chipotle used traditional PR tactics to combat the false rumors.  The success of Chipotle’s use of traditional PR tactics to combat the false guacpocalypse rumors shows that traditional PR is still alive and operating in today’s ever-growing online society.

Now, I’m going to go celebrate this traditional PR win with some chips and guac.

Photo via @ChipotleTweets

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Wheat Thins Showcases Perfect Consumer Engagement

When it comes to PR and this new world of social media, consumer engagement is key.

Consumers want to see companies as more than just a clothing store or food brand. They want to engage and interact with their favorite companies.

I found an awesome example of consumer engagement on Twitter last week. Let’s all give a big round of applause to Wheat Thins because they hit the nail on the head. Here’s why:

Catherine Lowe (previously Catherine Guidici), Sean Lowe’s wife from Season 17 of ABC’s The Bachelor, tagged Wheat Thins in a tweet to praise the company for its Must Have Wheat Thins commercials.

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Wheat Thins tweeted Catherine back about two hours later with these responses:

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This is how consumer engagement is done! Consumer engagement is simply about responding to consumers when they reach out to show them their loyalty or business is appreciated.

Yes, Wheat Things gave Catherine special treatment because she’s a reality TV star, but it shows that the company cares about its consumers and appreciates their loyalty.

I had a simple, yet valuable, consumer engagement experience with Charmin (yes, the toilet paper brand) after I tweeted about my love for the toilet paper.

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Within minutes, Charmin favorited my tweet.

Although you’re probably still trying to get over the fact that I actually tweeted about toilet paper, this is an important point.

Even after something as simple as a favorite, I felt like Charmin was listening and truly appreciated what I said about its product.

All companies should strive to make loyal consumers feel appreciated. Consumers value feeling noticed and heard in a world that is full of big businesses. And thankfully, social media makes these interactions easier than ever.

Something as simple as a favorite or response on Twitter will resonate with consumers. It is important for companies to take the time to engage with loyal consumers one-on-one in order to foster relationships.