"Waiting until AFTER a recall to worry about customer loyalty is too late," assured public relations (PR) guru Suzanne Shelton, Shelton Group PR. "A company should be consistently working to build loyalty and trust of customers, and that includes the loyalty and trust of retailers who sell your products as well as the end user." She noted when a companys trustworthiness is in question, the viability of that business is imperiled in the face of a recall. "However, and I cant stress this enough, its the reputation a company has developed over the years that determines what the PR impact of a recall will be," she advised.
As for the specifics to include in press releases on recalls, Shelton recommended an explanation of what happened and the steps being taken to fix the situation; she also said it is a good opportunity to briefly reiterate the company's commitment to quality. "Your tone cant be either defensive or minimizing, but you can lay out the facts while letting consumers know what steps you take to protect their well-being."
The rules for effective PR are the same regardless of whether a recall is voluntary or required by authorities, said Anna West, PR counsel for BrandHive. Accordingly, she stressed the importance of:
· Transparency"Clear, honest and open communication has always been the best approach, but in todays world of savvy media and customer reviews available at the touch of a button, accountability is more crucial than ever before," she said. "The key is to explain the situation as plainly as possible."
· Taking your customers viewpoint"Set aside concerns about naming fault, and place the customers' needs first," she advised. "Explaining the recall from a customers point of view in all things from safety to the return process will help establish trust and represent your company in the best light."
· Moving on"In the case of bad news, we look for a one-day story; rather than spending energy in an effort to keep a story from breaking, I recommend clear and efficient communication that leaves little room for further comment." She further recommended simply telling the truth and then moving on, saving energy for proactive efforts that explain the good things about the company rather than drawing more energy to a mishap.
Read more about preparing for and managing recalls in INSIDER's Regulatory Content Library.