McDonald's ramping up consumer, media efforts

OAK BROOK, IL: McDonald's is ramping up its media and consumer relations programs.

OAK BROOK, IL: McDonald's is ramping up its media and consumer relations programs.

The fast food company's chief executive officer Jim Skinner last week emphasized that the company needs to do a better job of communicating its story to consumers and the media.

Skinner addressed reporters at a media day in the company's home state.

Walt Riker, head of corporate communications at McDonald's, said these efforts, which will include an increase in the number of media tours, are not being done in response to the movie version of Eric Schlosser's book, Fast Food Nation, and the follow-up book that is aimed at teens.

"These are proactive initiatives that have been in place around the world for some time now," Riker said. "We feel that if it's a book or a movie, a news story, or a program, and it brings more attention to us, we're going to be prepared to tell our story and we see that as opportunity."

Riker stressed that this is not a campaign or initiative suddenly thrown together by McDonald's to battle misperceptions. He said it's simply a "ramping up" of the company's current programs.

"If we had to suddenly make something up and throw some kind of initiative out there, that would ring pretty hollow," Riker said. "But in our case, we have a long track record of delivering on these promises to our customers and our people that's backed up with facts."

The theme of the effort is transparency, Riker added.

"Our commitment to transparency is ongoing and worldwide," he explained. "It's nothing new, and it's very consistent with what McDonald's has been doing around the world for years."

The initiative builds on such efforts as the Open Doors program, where customers can get a behind-the-counter tour of a restaurant and ask questions about cooking, preparation, and food safety.

There will also be an increase of media tours, and an increase in the number of corporate responsibility reports and reports conducted by third parties.

"More facts, more numbers, and more real validation that we can talk about - I think that's a better way to talk about ourselves," Riker said. "At the end of the day, facts are the best anecdote to any misperceptions or claims."

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