On July 16, 2012 during a Christian radio interview, Chick-Fil-A’s President and COO Dan Cathy were asked to provide his opinion on the idea of marriage. Dan responded to the question by stating his values and the values that his father Truett Cathy and his brother set from the beginning of the company. These marriage values included the biblical definition of marriage and went on to discuss how they were not only a family owned business but a family-led one as well (Sudhaman & Holmes, 2012, p. 10). These comments including their recent contributions to anti-gay causes triggered a firestorm in the gay community, including calls for boycotts. The comments sparked a backlash among the gay and lesbian community who called for boycotts of their restaurants. With the use of Social Media, the company has been able to make it through their crisis and come out the other side successfully.
While many companies have experienced their own crisis, Chick-Fil-A was one of the first to experience it through social media. Dan Cathy’s comments were made on July 16 and within 24 hours media figures and celebrities’ comments were being spread through social media forms such as Twitter. The majority of these tweets was against the company, and even employed social media to create a Facebook event for same sex couples.
Within two days, the comments that were made by Chick-Fil-A had been spread worldwide with such forms of social media as Twitter and Facebook. Using the same form as the negative comments Chick-Fil-A decided to respond by making their comments on their Facebook page. Over the next two weeks the following post was shared over 11,000 times, “The Chick-Fil-A culture and service tradition in our restaurants is to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect--regardless of belief, creed, sexual orientation or gender. We will continue this tradition in the over 1,600 restaurants run by independent owner/operators. Going forward, our intent is to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena” (Peters, C., Benjumea, J., Garner, N., & Turner, K., 2013, 138). Chick-Fil-A was able to successfully navigate their way through the social media storm.
Chick-Fil-A has experienced two communication issues to address. The first issue is the initial communication issue from the initial statements made by their COO Dan Cathy. Cathy’s initial statements were not illegal or unethical however, they may not have been effective. It is important as an executive not to say anything that may put your company into crisis mode....