I’ve only eaten at Chipotle once, about 10 years ago, and I didn’t get sick! Actually, the food was quite good.

Fast forward to the last several months and Chipotle has run smack into a media nightmare. After several outbreaks of foodborne illness stemming from salmonella, E. coli, and norovirus, the “food with integrity” quick service chain is struggling to contain nationwide media scrutiny that, if left unabated, could continue to erode revenues and brand health.

With a thoughtful, steady PR crisis management plan, Chipotle can weather the media storm. But before you can manage the crisis, you have to know the depth and breadth of its impact. Specifically, how much has the media heat turned up versus pre-outbreak levels? In order to monitor and manage crisis management efforts, it is critical to know pre-crisis baselines.

With mediaQuant, that’s super super easy. Because we extract a 4-year analytic history for everything we measure, distill mentions down to a comparative indexed score between 0 and 100, and slice and dice coverage across time, 14 individual media segments, and include sentiment, media value, and media momentum. (See for yourself with a no-obligation 30-day trial.)

Here are the analytics for the latest monthly media cycle (Jan. 1-31, 2016):

For the past 7 months, Chipotle’s food poisoning storylines have spiked the brand’s media rating into the high 70s, settling at 78 for January. Although it’s -1 point off its all-time high of 79 in December, pre-outbreak ratings were running consistently at a 70 rating, +/- 2 points. Outbreaks in Seattle (July 2015), and later in Oregon, Minnesota, and Boston bumped the brand’s media rating above its healthier ~70 rating average (2011 – 2014), pushing the 6-month moving average to its current 76. Positive sentiment at 50% is well below the sector average of 82%.

Crisis management performance metrics might be as follows:

  • Get the rating down to pre-outbreak levels, around 70-72.
  • Or leverage the new publicity and keep media visibility high, with storylines that generate positive media sentiment at or above the sector average of 82%
  • Monitor media momentum to ensure that outbreak storylines are not continuing to contribute to negative media coverage.
  • Monitor foodborne illness media visibility, to ensure that Chipotle coverage and negative sentiment are not trending along with it.

Want to see more? Download our free media performance report on Quick Service Brands, or sign up for a no-obligation 30-day trial of our dashboard-based earned media analytics on more than 3,500 brands, trends, and influencers.