Focus: ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS FOR WHEN IT ALL GOES SOUR
Sunday 20 June 1999
In 1990 when Perrier discovered traces of benzine at one of its plants, it had to destroy 40 million bottles at a cost of pounds 20m. It had a crisis plan in place through Infoplan, its PR company. Daphne Barrett, Infoplan's managing director, says that in the 10 days after the news broke, her office handled 5,000 media calls, 7,000 from the retail trade and 15,000 from consumers worried about carcinogenic links with benzine. Ten years on, Perrier's recovery is hailed as a textbook case of crisis management well handled. It relaunched with the successful Helleau ad campaign, and after a long haul regained market share.
Martin Langford has spent 20 years advising companies under fire, most famously the Farley's salmonella baby milk scare. Now, as Burson- Marsteller's managing director, he says he finds himself arguing with clients about what to do in a crisis.
"Senior managers want to delay speaking to the press when something bad happens. They are afraid they haven't got all the facts they need. But I tell them to `over-communicate' with the public. It's better to go on TV immediately and say you're finding out what went wrong. Tell the truth. And say sorry - it's amazing how reluctant people are to use that word."
When a crisis breaks, PR advisers can write speeches, produce briefing notes for employees and record a phone message for a customer helpline. "Someone with a legal background is not always the right person to address the public," says Mr Langford. "In food scares a female spokesperson tends to be more effective. We know that people will empathise better with a woman."
Life & Style blogs
Climate change: 2015 will be the hottest year on record 'by a mile', experts say
Senior British politicians tell David Cameron: When dead children are being washed up on beaches, it's time to act
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don’t change Europe’s attitude to refugees, what will?
If you're not already angry about the refugee crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be
Theresa May says migrants should be banned from entering the UK unless they have jobs lined up
- 1 Moscow voted the world's unfriendliest city
- 2 The excuses your boss is most likely to believe when you call in sick
- 3 I'm pansexual – here are the five biggest misconceptions about my sexuality
- 4 More than 11,000 Icelanders offer to house Syrian refugees to help European crisis
- 5 If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don’t change Europe’s attitude to refugees, what will?
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This recognized leader in providing software s...
£40000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company has a n...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A works engineer is required in a progressive ...