McDonald's operators in MI enlist external PR help

DETROIT: A local McDonald's owners group has hired its first outside PR counsel, taking on the team of Avance Communications and Marx Layne & Co.

DETROIT: A local McDonald's owners group has hired its first outside PR counsel, taking on the team of Avance Communications and Marx Layne & Co.

The Southeast Michigan McDonald's Operators Association, a group of 49 owner/operators with 237 outlets, picked the two agencies from among 10 who pitched for the business. The two winning firms presented as a team, feeling their respective strengths complemented each other. Each firm has food-service experience. Avance specializes in diversity communications.

Errol Service, chairman of the operators' PR committee, said the owners want to emphasize their community involvement, something McDonald's owners in other parts of the US have also been trumpeting in an effort to counter the company's image as a distant, faceless corporation.

"As McDonald's owners, we are very committed to our community, we are very involved," said Service.

The group's PR efforts will focus on five areas: showing that McDonald's promotes an active lifestyle; brand quality; various charity and community involvement programs; crisis preparation; and outreach to African-American consumers, said Acquanetta Pierce, president of Avance, a minority-owned firm.

"The [winning] team put a great amount of work into their presentation," said Service.

Each agency will put two people on the account day-to-day, adding other staff as needed.

Service said the group decided to take on outside PR help for the first time because "we are continuing to support our brand. Our goal is to maintain our number-one position over time."

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