Simple Communications Trick Could’ve Prevented Wendy’s Surge Pricing Fiasco

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Wendy’s made news for all the wrong reasons when its CEO mentioned the phrase “dynamic pricing” during an earnings call on February 15th .The media jumped on it and started to use the term “surge pricing,” comparing it to how Uber and Lyft charge more during busy times.

After the social media firestorm. Wendy’s insisted that its trial with dynamic pricing is all about prices going down at times. One network morning show took up the topic and the host pointed out that if they intended to lower prices, that should have been the lead. In Hahn Agency’s communications workshops, we encourage spokespeople to establish their lead or what they think the headline of the story should be early and repeat it often.

Another way to make your lead stand out is an old but effective communications trick that we call “flagging.” Like waving a flag, using a flagging phrase gets the audience’s attention that you’re about to say something important. Phrases like “The bottom line is..” “The big takeaway here is…” “What’s really important to know about this is…” If Wendy’s CEO said on the earnings call when he brought up the idea of dynamic pricing… “The most important thing to know about our test of dynamic pricing is that our menu prices will only go down at certain times…” Firestorm averted and maybe the buzz would’ve been about something positive Flagging is a technique that can really improve the chances your will remember the most important thing.