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These Brands Scored Major PR Points in 2017

December 20, 2017 Molly Garvey

2017 has had its fair share of PR fails (see: Pepsi’s tone-deaf commercial with Kendall Jenner, Fyre Media’s not-so-luxury “luxury music festival” and the PR crisis that United Airlines turned into a huge disaster). But in the spirit of Christmas (’tis the season to be jolly!), instead of getting fired up about the biggest PR blunders of the year, let’s remember the #PRwins – especially those with a little humor.

Waffle House’s sleeping employees

When late-night customer Alex Bowen found the staff of his West Columbia, SC Waffle House asleep on the job, he took measures into his own hands. (Literally.) Bowen hopped behind the counter and proceeded to make the meal himself, taking to Facebook to share drunken selfies of the event.

Waffle House cooking selfies

The post quickly went viral and as the event drew national attention, Waffle House’s director of public relations released this statement:

“We’re glad Alex was able to enjoy his Texas Bacon Cheesesteak. We’ve apologized to Alex and have invited him back to eat with us. We also promised him we’d do the cooking the next time.”

Waffle House has shown us how, when you find your brand at the brunt of a joke, sometimes it’s best to take a lighthearted approach and join in on the fun.

The 11 accounts KFC chose to follow on Twitter

KFC, the fried chicken fast food joint known for its secret recipe with “11 herbs and spices,” follows 11 people on Twitter: the five former Spice Girls and six guys named Herb.

Twitter user @edgette22 noted his finding on October 19.

The 11 accounts KFC follows

It’s unknown how long KFC had been patiently waiting for someone to notice its genius social media move but it seems that the wait was worth it – @edgette22’s tweet received over 300,000 retweets and more than 700,000 likes.

Netflix’s cease-and-desist letter to unauthorized Stranger Things bar

Ahead of the popular Netflix original’s season two premiere, an unauthorized Stranger Things pop-up bar opened in Chicago. Netflix naturally wasn’t OK with the concept but rather than lashing out with threatening major fines, the studio crafted a clever – and generous – cease-and-desist letter to the bar’s creators.

My walkie talkie is busted so I had to write this note instead. I heard you launched a Stranger Things pop-up bar at your Logan Square location. Look, I don’t want you to think I’m a total wastoid, and I love how much you guys love the show. (Just wait until you see Season 2!) But unless I’m living in the Upside Down, I don’t think we did a deal with you for this pop-up. You’re obviously creative types, so I’m sure you can appreciate that it’s important to us to have a say in how our fans encounter the worlds we build.

We’re not going to go full Dr. Brenner on you, but we ask that you please (1) not extend the pop-up beyond its 6 week run ending in September, and (2) reach out to us for permission if you plan to do something like this again. Let me know as soon as possible that you agree to these requests.

We love our fans more than anything, but you should know the Demogorgon is not always as forgiving. So please don’t make us call your mom.

The letter reminds us that even cease-and-desist letters can serve as marketing materials and that customers tend to respond positively to a consistent and authentic brand persona.

What are your favorite PR wins from 2017? Share with us below.

photo credit: jjbers KFC (Willimantic, Connecticut) via photopin (license)

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