Over 200 people from around the world attended our IPE breakfast meeting Thursday morning. Peter Kerr provided some simple steps to help poultry companies prepare for a potential crisis. If not handled properly, a public relations crisis can destroy a company's brand and even force it out of business. However, if a company is prepared to deal with a crisis then it may emerge from the event intact, or even stronger than before.
Harles and Jentzsch, the German company that recently filed for bankruptcy after supplying dioxin contaminated fat to feed manufacturers was destroyed by their public relations crisis. Other companies that have approached crises with integrity and honesty have survived and even prospered following very damaging events. Tylenol survived a product tampering crisis in the 1970s by reacting quickly to pull product off the shelves and design tamper-proof packaging. In effect, Tylenol became the only guaranteed safe product on the shelves. They actually gained market share because they had policies in place that directed them to react with integrity and speed.
Some of the specific steps that Kerr recommended are:
The meeting was much more than sausage, eggs and a slideshow. After the presentation each table was provided with a crisis scenario and asked to work together to create a plan. Several groups described their plans to the room for follow up discussion.