Burger King's quick reaction helps stem PR onslaught following playarea tragedy

MIAMI: Burger King (BK) has managed to avoid a media slating

following last month's death of a four-year-old boy who had become

trapped in netting in a St. Louis branch play area.

Media coverage of its subsequent decision to replace playground netting

at more than 650 locations has been neutral to favorable, a BK

spokesperson told PRWeek.

Covered by Reuters, CNN, Dow Jones, AP and The Miami Herald, BK

announced with the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) that it

would replace two-inch playground netting with quarter-inch netting.

The CPSC is the independent federal regulatory agency charged with

keeping American families safe by reducing the risk of injury or death

from consumer products.

Kim Miller, BK's senior director of PR, said she had worked with CPSC

and franchisees over the past two weeks to ensure BK was ready to

announce its plan.

"We did a survey with the CPSC to make sure franchisees had the

mechanisms to do this in a timely manner," said Miller.

By working with the CPSC instead of hiding problems, BK scored points

against rival McDonald's, which has paid dollars 9 million in government

settlements over the past six years for failing to inform the CPSC of

its own playground injuries.

Miller said BK chose to work with the CPSC to ensure fast and correct

upgrades in playground safety. To make sure national media was aware

that BK and the CPSC were working in concert, BK produced a special

b-roll package and sent out two media alerts, each listing the package's

satellite coordinates.

"We had a team comprising myself, other folks from the PR group and a

playground safety expert working on this initiative and all available

for interviews," said Miller. She added that as part of the effort, CPSC

people were also available for interviews.

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