Reputation management has become an integral part of running any business, especially in the social media era, where bad publicity can spread extensively within a short period. Companies could easily collapse due to bad publicity if the situation is not handled carefully. Therefore, strong public relations strategies are needed to ensure that any emerging issues are addressed promptly. However, in some cases, such as the one involving The Mexican Villa, companies do not get the opportunity to contain bad publicity before it spreads. As such, organizations are expected to rebuild their reputation after extensive damage has been done and business lost. This paper discusses The Mexican Villa case to highlight the kinds of public relations tactics that could help the restaurant. The Mexican Villa can be saved, as explained in this paper.
Public Relations Tactics
Juan and Bonita Gonzales should make proactive and decisive decisions to restore The Mexican Villa’s reputation. The public relations tactics explained in this paper require consistency, honesty, and openness if this restaurant is to be saved. According to Theaker (2016), public relations “is a distinctive management function which helps establish and maintain mutual lines of communication, understanding, acceptance, and cooperation an organization and its publics” (p. 6). Therefore, Juan and Bonita should focus on areas that will significantly change the negative perception of the restaurant. The major problem that the owners are facing is the lack of media audiences to assure the public that the health issue had been resolved. As such, Juan and Bonita need to become proactive and look for ways to get this information out to the public.
The first step is to make all employees spokespersons of the restaurant. The owners should discuss the issue with staff members and ensure that they are well informed about the situation and encourage them to share this information with their friends, relatives, and everyone else they come across. This approach will play an important role in winning back customers because they will hear first-hand information from people close to the business. All workers should be briefed on how to explain the situation by detailing the countermeasures that have been put in place to ensure that such an incident does not happen. It is important to note that the affected employee was wearing protective clothing on duty, which explains why no one else was infected with the disease. This assertion will give the business some credibility that it observes hygiene protocols in its operations.
Second, the owners should convert the existing customers into their brand ambassadors. Indrasari et al. (2019) argue that having customers speak well about a brand plays a central role in brand promotion and consumer confidence. As such, Juan and Bonita need to create a strategy of ensuring that the current customers spread word of mouth about the restaurant and share their experience at The Mexican Villa post the health threat era. Customers are likely to believe their fellow consumers because the underlying narrative is based on first-hand lived experience, which is highly reliable. This strategy would specifically work in this case, given that the restaurant serves a small population, which is connected in one way or another.
The owners do not have enough advertisement budgetary allocation; however, they could leverage the power of social media. They should establish the popular social media platforms based on the demographics served by the restaurant and capitalize on the same to pass the message that they have resumed operations. Specifically, they should highlight a detailed plan that was used to respond to the health scare incident and what they have done to prevent future incidences from happening.
Juan and Bonita could also become proactive and come up with a way of turning this crisis into a blessing. The best way to achieve this goal is by tying the cause of the problem (an employee contracting hepatitis) to a bigger public health drive. This way, they could partner with the local health officials and organize a campaign or a walk to create public awareness on the infectious nature of hepatitis, how it is spread, and how it could be prevented. Such a campaign will serve the restaurant’s interests in two perspectives. First, people in the area will see the commitment of the owners to address health-related issues facing their business. Second, the campaign will be a free advertising opportunity for The Mexican Villa to let the public know that it is back in business with a better outlook towards the safety of its employees and customers.
The Mexican Villa can be saved by following the public relations tactics highlighted in this paper. The restaurant serves a small population, thus word of mouth from customers and employees will be effective in spreading positive information concerning the status of the business. The owners should also leverage the power of social media and spread the message that they have resumed operations and handled the health scare issue comprehensively. A public awareness campaign sensitizing people about hepatitis would also go a long way in restoring the restaurant’s reputation and winning clients back.
Indrasari, M., Hapsari, I. N., & Sukesi, S. (2019). Customer loyalty: Effects of sales information system, marcomm, and brand ambassadors. Jurnal Studi Komunikasi, 3(2), 182-198.
Theaker, A. (2016). The public relations handbook. Routledge.