Speed, directness and transparency–translated

April 3, 2007

Today I got a link to a Polish public relations website that published in Polish one of the articles I wrote on this blog some time ago: http://www.proto.pl/artykuly/info?itemId=36292

The article was titled “How to Tell if Your Crisis Manager Gets It.”

Yesterday, I had an interesting discussion (interview) with a reporter from a Canadian national business magazine about the pet food crisis. I certainly admitted that I hadn’t been following it particularly closely and couldn’t comment with any substance on how Menu Foods was dealing with their very serious crisis, but I did make the key points that I think are critical in dealing with any crisis situation these days: speed, directness and transparency.

And that’s what the message of your crisis manager getting it is all about. The reporter asked how I thought Menu Foods did. As a casual observer, it seemed they were slow. But I commented it did seem more and more businesses and organizations were understanding the importance of speed these days. The recent post about P&G, Starbucks, etc., is one example.

Regarding directness, or as I have called it “the stakeholder first” strategy, it is hard to tell. Menu Foods’ future depends on its relationship with its customers–including those 95 brands involved in the recall. I hope their communication was better with them than with the public. Because if the message went out for weeks that we really don’t know what went wrong and so little information available about what is being done to solve the mystery, then I think they are in trouble. But such direct communication is not visible to the casual observer. So they may be doing very well. But, they must for those 95 brands to be willing to trust them. Because from their standpoint, the crisis is about them, not menu foods. It is their brand that has lost the confidence of pet owners. To reveal that it all comes from one pet food plant–the same as all the others–is a huge underlying crisis as I pointed out here before.

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