MF Communication is a Belfast PR & Marketing Communications agency that provides corporate and brand PR and Marketing solutions to clients in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors. Services range from proactive marketing, PR and stakeholder relations to crisis communications and corporate reputation management.

Is your food brand a ticking time bomb?

It was quite a week for product recalls in the agri-food sector with thousands of products removed from various supermarkets due to Food Standards Agency recall notices about risks of food poisoning, mis-labeling, mis-packaging and potential allergy threats. Topping those headlines is the recall of Camembert due to the potential presence of the Listeria bug which is of particular threat to pregnant women. This includes the Co-Op’s unfortunately branded ‘Truly Irresistible Camembert.’ Going beyond food and we have tumble dryer manufacturers being sued by fire damage victims; slow cookers being removed from sale due to electric shock risks as well as antibiotic creams contaminated by rust and glass.

Recalls can range from the potentially benign, such as produce packaged with an incorrect ‘best before’ date to the more life-threatening, such as allergenic ingredients not being mentioned on the label.  So what is a company to do to protect its hard-brand reputation against the wrath of the consumer when such issues come to light and how does it ensure it can cope with the myriad of messages firing around, some inaccurate; or the media questions that can follow?

Well in the first instance an organization needs to ensures that it has the crisis communications capability in place to withstand a crisis. Making the upfront investment in putting your house in order now will help identify potential weak spots and trouble areas as well as build up a bank of useful resources that can be deployed in times of trouble. With the viral power of the internet at journalists’ and consumers’ disposal, the time it takes for trouble to strike and reach international proportions is a fraction of the time it just took to read this blog post. Thankfully digital communications tools equally present opportunities for companies to take control of crisis communications and ensure they are not caught on the back foot.