Earls Restaurants Ltd.: The Importance of a Communication Plan
(9 pages of text)
Earls Restaurants, Ltd., a Canadian restaurant chain headquartered in Vancouver, was facing a communications crisis in April 2016, when it changed its sourcing policy with regard to beef. In a bid to appeal to millennial consumers, who were conscious of animal welfare standards, it decided to source beef from a U.S. farm that had its beef independently certified as humane. This cut out the restaurant’s traditional supply sources among Canadian ranchers, most specifically in Alberta, where the restaurant chain had been founded. The backlash was immediate. After discussing the situation with his core management team and asking a consultant for help formulating a communication strategy, the company’s president had to decide how to proceed to restore the company’s reputation. Should Earls do nothing and wait for the attention to die down, go back to sourcing its beef through Canadian suppliers, or continue to serve humane beef in its restaurants?
The case can be used in undergraduate, graduate, and executive education programs. The focus can be communication challenges in social media and/or communications strategy. It can also be used in a module on reputation management in a communications course. This case provides an opportunity for students to discuss crisis communications and communications strategies. After working through the case and assignment questions, students will be able to
- analyze where a company has erred in its communication strategy; and
- develop a communications strategy to diffuse a communications crisis.
Accommodation & Food Services
Canada, Large, 2016
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