A couple of days ago, Suzanne Shelton took us through the PR protocol if your company ever goes through a recall. As you would expect, it was a tremendous read, full of insight and commonsense from an industry veteran. (If you haven't read it, you really should: http://www.naturalproductsinsider.com/blogs/supplement-perspectives/2015/07/pr-tactics-for-surviving-a-recall.aspx.)
However, Suz’s article assumes you employ a PR person, which I don't think is a given in this industry. It should be.
Last month, I talked about how investing in R&D and the supply is part of the new cost of doing business. Another necessary cost is public relations. Companies need people—either on staff or as contractors—who can get their news into the right hands, work on promotions, and extinguish fires.
I’ve vented my frustration with PR people before, but they serve a purpose. They are insurance. If you have a recall or a similar piece of bad news, you can’t land a good PR person on your lunch break. That relationship has to be cultivated over months, and more likely years. You have to trust the PR person’s work and have the confidence that you’ll get a timely response when things go awry.
“Well, Pete, if something goes wrong, I’ll just write a release myself and get it out there. How hard can it be?”
It’s very hard. Here’s why.
1.) Writing well and writing professionally are two entirely different planets. Writing well and writing professionally (and quickly) are two different galaxies. You want to give it a shot, go ahead, but time is not your ally here. The PR pro is battle-tested. You’re not.
2.) A good PR person has a long list of editor and writer contacts. Take it from someone who pitches stories for a living: finding the right person for one publication takes time. Finding it for an array of Websites, magazines, and newspaper could take weeks. That is time you do not have. It may take longer for you, because—
3.) You have other things to do—you know, like run a business.
4.) An ace PR person knows what editors and reporters will put a more positive spin on your plight or has influence. He or she will knows the reporter who garbles quotes and facts—and can be sent a press release or a simple statement. He or she can answer questions that are not worth your time. Those are things a good PR person has a familiarity with that you simply cannot acquire on the fly.
Do yourself a favor and hire a PR person before the recall. One problem is easier to solve than two.