Time and time again, Denver-based restaurant chain Chipotle finds itself in the middle of some form of a PR crisis. Whether it is a virus infection, disease outbreak or mice falling from the ceiling, Chipotle can’t seem to avoid the negative spotlight.

More recently, Broadway star and Supergirl actor, Jeremy Jordan, publicly claimed that he was sent to the hospital due to a Chipotle meal and “almost died.” Jordan posted a video on his Instagram account, explaining the experience to his 428K followers.

The company responded with the following statement: “We are sorry to hear that Jeremy is sick and have attempted to get in touch with him directly regarding where and when he ate so we can look into this. We take all claims seriously, but at this time we can’t confirm any link to Chipotle. We are always committed to making things right for our guests and will for Jeremy when we are able to reach him.”

Although Chipotle did its best to respond to this PR crisis in a timely manner, and there was little evidence that the restaurant was in fact responsible for Jordan’s illness, Chipotle’s stock still fell by as much as 5.9 percent, the lowest the company has seen in four years.

Such is the reality of today’s business environment: a single social media post from an influencer can cause millions of dollars in damage to a company on any given day. And while there’s little Chipotle could have done to avoid this particular crisis, it serves as a reminder that in order to protect their reputations and bottom lines, companies need to stay on high alert and be prepared to react 24/7.

Consider the following takeaways:

1. Continuously monitor social media – The vast majority of PR crises these days receive their initial publicity through social media. By consistently monitoring your brand on social platforms, your company will have a higher chance to spot an erupting PR crisis before it hits major news media.

2. Be prepared to respond – Make sure your communications team has proper protocols in place that would enable it to act fast and appropriately in an emergency situation. Be ready to retain outside help if the situation calls for professional crisis PR expertise.

3. Be proactive – Don’t wait until things hit the fan to start thinking about your crisis response strategy. Assess your company’s weaknesses and areas where a crisis may potentially occur. Then, plan, identifying your key stakeholders, messaging and channels.

If you need professional help in responding to or preparing your company for a public relations crisis, contact Red Banyan today.

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