McDonald's puts faith in staff as brand voice

McDonald's - notorious for giving rise to the phrase 'McJobs' - wants to make its frontline staff 'brand ambassadors' - and will not discourage workers from blogging.

Nick Hindle, the firm's UK PR chief, told a major conference this week: ‘Clear mess­aging is delivered by people, not corporations. We need to inform and empower staff. They are the ones who talk about McDonald's on a daily basis. They are far more bel­ievable than a corporation.'

Addressing PRWeek's PR and The Media conference this Tuesday, the UK comms V-P was speaking as Prince Charles remarked on a tour of the Middle East that a ban on McDonald's was crucial to improve children's health.

Many corporations are now grappling with how to cope with fast-changing public opinion and whether to ban emp­l­oyee blogging.

In response to Charles's remarks, Hindle told PRWeek: ‘You don't manage your brand these days, youinf­luence it. This week it happ­ened to be Prince Char­les who made the comments.'

He added: ‘We should give staff the confidence they need - some will talk to the press, some will blog, others will talk to their mates down the pub. It requires a lot of bottle to give up control, but the upsides are significant.'

Hindle said McDonald's aimed to impart this information through internal comms activities and campaigns, and through staff development activity.

Asked by one delegate whether ‘McJobbers' would have enough passion for the brand, he said: ‘We have a high level of staff engagement and most staff have a very positive experience.'

He told PRWeek: ‘Policing our employees would be the wrong thing to do. It's not about creating a "train a blogger" programme. It's about educating staff so they feel happy to do it.'

McDonald's set up an ‘amba­ssador programme' last year, providing media training to franchisees. Hindle said: ‘We have seen a direct uplift in regional coverage. This is just going one step further.'

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