This pet food recall has crisis communication fresh on my mind. With a crisis like this on their hands, and no good PR to speak of, it begs the question, "What is this company thinking?!?"
There's simply no reason to lack PR plans for issues, crises and catastrophes. The lame old excuse of pretending like the worst possible scenario will never happen to our company doesn't hold water anymore. Bad stuff will happen to you at some point. It just depends on the degree of severity. Having a PR plan in place will help with the damage control. Yes, dwelling on all the disasters that could befall your organization is a scary thought, but it's not an optional task here. You MUST do it!
Look at it like this, what's worse, sitting there for a day or two at a time thinking up all the dreadful events that will place your company under glaring public scrutiny or having a well-thought out, smoothly executed action plan for when Awful Event X occurs? During a crisis, pandemonium will ensue, and rather than running around like chickens with your heads cut off, you and your colleagues will have a plan of attack.
If that still hasn't convinced you that you NEED an a crisis communication plan, think of it this way: you will look so much better in the minds of your customers, the media and the general public (and you might need any image boost you can find after your disaster), if you have a fast, effective way to communicate important information with affected publics and hopefully a method to come up with a temporary solution. When you're in a crisis, information is the sole factor everybody wants and no one seems to have. You have to find a way to get that information to the people who need it most.
Just imagine how much better (at least marginally better) the impression of Menu Foods might be right now if they had a plan that implemented these aspects. I mean, here's an idea, why not have a list of suppliers with direct contacts at each one, who they could contact immediately in case of a problem with their pet foods and have questionable foods removed from store shelves as a precaution. Pet owners would be inclined to think Menu Foods actually cares. Also, a comprehensive and easily located and accessed list of all the suspected tainted foods would help.
Out of curiosity, did anyone check the list on the Menu Foods Web site to see if their pet's food was safe? I did, and it was such a hassle! You clicked on the brand name, and you were taken to a link on that site and 10 clicks later you found the information you wanted. Tip: that was way too complicated. Make it much simpler for panicked pet owners who want to make sure their baby isn't being poisoned.
All I have to say: thank goodness one of my cats is allergic to wheat gluten.