Transparency Takes Priority: Overcoming Negative Reactions to Recalls

Robert Brice
Fri, Feb 26, 2016
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Recalls hurt brand image, but companies can win back trust.

A business operating in the food industry should use automated data collection solutions to monitor manufacturing and distribution procedures to prevent problems from harming a brand's image. When a national magazine publishes a cover that associates a company's product with stomach illness, that's basically a worst-case scenario. This is precisely what happened when Bloomberg Business reported on the Chipotle E. coli outbreak and following recall, according to Business Insider.

News sources are quick to jump on such stories because consumers value their safety. Accompanying the news with graphic images and dramatic phrases may make for intriguing media, but its harmful for the companies at the center of the story. When the worst happens, businesses need to react fast to take control of the narrative before it spins out of control.

Getting Ahead of the Story
Ideally, a food manufacturer or retailer wants to be the one to tell consumers about an upcoming recall or other inventory management problem. The iQ media public relations group explained how General Mills made the right move by announcing a Cheerios packaging error through a press release as soon as it was discovered. The release provided consumers with information and announced how the company was already on top of the error and working toward a solution.

General Mills didn't hide from the public, instead the brand released the details of the product recall over multiple channels. PR Week said being upfront with information when an organization makes a mistake is the best way to regain consumer trust. Providing the public with details, through every available resource, means consumers and media representatives don't have to make guesses or speculations about a company's intentions.

Collecting Data for Transparency
A business should own its mistake and communicate through accurate data. As long as the information presented is honest, the business can dictate what content will help put the brand in the best light during recall or other difficult times. For example, if the media presents negative images, the organization can use visual social media platforms to share positive pictures and videos from daily operations that demonstrate corrections in a process.

The RFgen white paper "The Food Traceability Survival Guide" said prioritizing daily data collection procedures prepares a company to detect and respond to supply chain problems. A complete report of activities gathered by automated data collection solutions should be easy to share with regulators and consumers to limit negative PR. Transparency shows a company may have made an error, but is willing to take responsibility, fix mistakes and dedicate itself to public safety.

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