The PR department of McDonald’s had some serious explaining to do after a recent hoax that occurred last weekend. A picture of a seemingly authentic looking memo hit Twitter and spread rather quickly. The memo stated, “As an insurance measure, due in part to a recent string of robberies, African-American customers are now required to pay an additional fee of $1.50 per transaction.”

Obviously the memo did not go over well with customers. People were so outraged that #SeriouslyMcDonald’s began to trend on Twitter. After enough people complained with tweets and direct messages to the verified McDonald’s USA Twitter page, McDonald’s quickly addressed the issue.

Using the social media site where the scandal all began, McDonald’s sent out a statement via Twitter that stated “That pic is a senseless & ignorant hoax McD’s values ALL our customers. Diversity runs deep in our culture on both sides of the counter.” They also responded directly to some of the more irritated consumers with tweets like “That picture is a hoax. We are proud of our long history of diversity.”

Proof that the memo is indeed a hoax: the number on the bottom of the memo is actually a number to contact the KFC customer satisfaction hot-line. It turns out that the picture actually surfaced awhile back, but didn’t hit Twitter until recently. With the popularity social networking sites have, it’s no wonder the picture went viral so quickly.

There are arguments over whether or not McDonald’s handled the situation right. Some think they did a fine job, and others believe that more could have been done to address the situation and prove that all customers are valued. Personally, I feel that McDonald’s handled the situation to the best of their ability. They used the same networking site where the scandal began—a sure way to ensure that their customers would see the statement. They also made a statement to a number of reliable publications clearly explaining that the picture was a hoax, allowing the media to quickly receive this message.

Do you think McDonald’s responded in the right way to the hoax or could they have done more to address the situation?

This guest blog was written by PRowl Public Relations staff member Kaitlin Tully.

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