Media crisis giving you a headache?

Earlier this autumn we saw the pharmaceutical industry hit the headlines. Packets of Nurofen Plus were recalled off the shelves amid fears that they had been sabotaged with an antipsychotic drug found in schizophrenia medicine. A formal police investigation was launched when the Seroquel tablets were found inside Nurofen Plus packets. Contaminated products were first discovered in Boots stores in Victoria, Bromley and Beckenham in London. At least 250,000 packets were expected to be recalled and yet consumers heading to the company’s website were faced with very little information on what to do. The Twitter and Facebook pages of Nurofen and manufacturers Reckitt Benckiser, also kept customers in the dark as the rumors of sabotage spread.

As Ayesha Bharmal, Associate director, Fishburn Hedges says “silence is never golden in a crisis”. The Royal Pharmaceutical Society appeared to be more on the ball than the company itself. Neal Patel, head of corporate communications, gave a reassuring response on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme “so far there is absolutely no indication of malicious intent. We know it’s not the manufacturing sites. They’ve checked the manufacturers and there’s no problem there. So it looks like it’s further down the supply chain – so something to do with warehousing and distribution”.

It’s a crisis like this that can break a company if dealt with unprofessionally, in the wrong way or if left and ignored completely. You can’t always stop mistakes happening in business but the way you handle the immediate fallout can be crucial. If the media are likely to become involved as a result timing is even more of the essence as a story can be around the world in seconds. Simple steps can be put in place to limit the damage to a company. Media crisis training does just this. It is designed to prepare you for the worst case scenario depending on your type of business and courses are tailored to be relevant to you. After attending one of our courses you can be confident that you have the knowledge and skills to effectively manage whatever crisis your business might face.

After all, take a recent unfortunate event involving WH Smith, who learnt the importance of social media the hard way. A Tweeter in Leamington Spa decided to share a photograph with the world one weekend. The picture seemed to show that the shop had moved it’s publications of Gay Times and Attitude in a apparent homophobic whim in order to keep them shamefully hidden. The image was then retweeted all weekend long by outraged consumers, while the WH Smith Twitter account remained unstaffed. Of course by Monday when the retailer issued a statement explaining the reason for moving the magazines was not motivated by homophobic beliefs, it was too little too late. Although social media is an extremely beneficial way of interacting with consumers, WH Smith’s experience is a prime example of the pitfalls business’ can be faced with if not used properly.

If you’re not sure how you’d react to an angry customer or client in 140 characters, Tweet us @Bluewoodtrain.

Written by Megan – – October 2011

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