Thursday, December 9, 2010

KFC Scholarship - Finger Licking Good Press


If I were to say Twitter and philanthropy, you would immediately think of KFC, right? No? Well you should, because the Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) restaurant chain recently awarded a $20,000 scholarship to a high school student based on a single tweet.

Amanda Russell of Long Beach, Calif. won the scholarship with the following tweet: “Hey Colonel! Your scholarship's the secret ingredient missing from my recipe for success! Got the grades, drive, just need cash!”

KFC’s Colonel’s Scholars’ Program awards 50 to 60 scholarships every year, but this was their first year to use Twitter as the main application tool. And now that the idea is out there, I don’t think it will be long before other companies jump on board with similar social media strategies.

This scholarship is a great example of how businesses can use social media to show their best side. Remember that terribly unhealthy sandwich KFC launched earlier this year - the Double Down? I bet you forgot! Because until I mentioned it, you thought how generous KFC is to Amanda Russell and dozens of young students every year.

And it’s not just because they awarded the scholarship, they also timed it perfectly for the holidays. The yearly cost of college is approximately $7,000 (and that’s not including private school tuitions!) So during this season of giving, KFC brought joy and cheer to one more family – I’m sure Amanda’s parents are doing the happy dance.  It’s a feel-good story that we all love to read during the holiday season.

Twitter not only helped KFC generate good press, but it helped generate good press about their good press! People are retweeting this story like crazy - including myself.   Speaking of KFC, they know how to kill two social media birds with one stone. Too tired to cook during the busy holiday season? Well, it’s only a small leap for a hungry tweeter to suggest KFC chicken for dinner! Smart move, KFC.

The KFC scholarship tweet is a true testament to how companies – especially restaurants - can really make a big publicity splash via social media. This scholarship was not “openly” advertised, yet over 2,800 students knew about it and applied.  A “non-marketed” campaign like the KFC scholarship probably would have failed in years past before social media. But now social media marketing makes it possible for companies to quickly generate publicity and spread goodwill to the masses - ‘tis the season!  


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Therese Pope, Copywriter/Content Developer & Digital Buzz-icist

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