Friday, March 13, 2009

A Lesson to be Learned

Wow, I haven't heard so much talk about peanuts since the Carter administration.

The salmonella outbreak that was traced back to peanut product manufacturers has had a  widely publicized impact. The products that were tainted by the outbreak were recalled, plants that distributed the tainted products were investigated by the federal government, and some plants were closed down. 

The damage, unfortunately,  is still being done. Many consumers are unclear as to what peanut products were affected. Is it safe to buy peanut butter? What about Reese's peanut butter cups? Better safe than sorry, right? ... maybe I'll just stay away from peanut products altogether for awhile... just to be safe.

Unfortunately, this is the mentality that has caused peanut butter companies to experience their lowest sales numbers in years, even though peanut butter was not at all affected by the outbreak. It's a harsh lesson in what bad publicity can do and how important it is to counteract bad publicity with all of your strength and might. 

Businesses need to create a flow of positive publicity and community outreach on a regular basis  to ensure their reputation in the public is, well... positive. By keeping communication open and honest with the public, they have established credibility and have created a relationship that will make crisis management easier to manage if a similar event happens to them.

Being involved in the good of your community, sponsoring community events, joining committees, or serving on local non-profit boards is a great way to ensure that the public's introduction to your company name is a pleasant one. It is also a good way to let your community know that you are not just in it for yourself, but that you are committed to the community as a whole.

What have you done for your community lately?

June Bisel
Partner, BBG&G Advertising & PR

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