IRVINE, CA: Prandium, parent company of Chi-Chi's, needs help to deal with the media maelstrom around 500 cases of hepatitis A.
David Watson, head of corporate branding for CCG, said the agency's chief responsibility was "making sure the right information gets out."
He explained, "While the media might have the best intentions at heart, there have been many theories floating around, which has created a lot of confusion. Our job is to state the facts."
After eating at Chi-Chi's in the Beaver Valley Mall outside of Pittsburgh, three people have died and more than 500 have become ill. The numbers make the hepatitis A outbreak the largest in US history.
As of PRWeek's press time, there was no official confirmation that the outbreak originated at the Chi-Chi's location. As a precaution, however, Prandium voluntarily closed the Beaver Valley restaurant and removed green onions, a suspected contaminated source, from all of its menus across the entire Chi-Chi's chain.
Bill Zavertnik, COO of Chi-Chi's, has served as the public face for the restaurant since the story broke. Zavertnik has been with the chain for 20 years, and lives less than two hours from the Beaver Valley location.
"It is important to have someone out there who is connected to the situation," said Watson.
Regarding Chi-Chi's next steps, Watson said, "In a situation like this, you have to be driven by the investigation. I can't even begin to speculate about where we'll be next week."