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How to save your brand after a product recall

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Being a step ahead of the consumer is always the ideal situation, however, sometimes organisations are forced to react quickly. The good news is that the internet and social media can enable a company to tell its story before their customers do.

A comprehensive crisis preparation plan will ensure designated spokespeople are prepared to address situations as they arise and stay engaged throughout the recall process. Information gets buried fast in the realm of social media so organisations must consistently publish information to stay at the top of search results.

A good way to do this is by linking back to static sources of information such as corporate websites or custom landing pages that provide a credible source of information that can be easily accessed by consumers and quickly updated by the organization.

When it’s time to determine a companys messaging during a recall, honesty and transparency are paramount. Consumer trust is quickly eroded and once it’s gone it can be nearly impossible to regain, especially in a crowded market with the competition waiting to capture customers from the fallout.

Even if you have the best of intentions, the risk of operating behind closed doors is too great. Virtually every person walking around today has a phone with a camera and multiple messaging platforms. If you dont tell the true story, someone else will.

Inconsistent messaging also allows for speculation and in the height of a recall it is not uncommon for there to be variations in statements. However, if youve been honest and proactive this confusion can be easily rectified and your brand protected.

Regulatory body correspondence

A recall plan must also incorporate key communication strategies for liaising with regulatory agencies. Having the correct contact information for quick responses is mandatory. Also, the strategy should include the proper procedures for communicating with those agencies to ensure they get the information they require in a timely manner.  

Product retrieval

Regarding the product itself, accurate and accessible production records will enable an organisation to quickly identify the scope and scale of a recall. This will aid in disseminating information quickly in the early stages and will also help prevent the need to expand the recall later on. 

Recall expansions expose a brand to more damage by drawing out a very public process. Accurate production records also enable companies to isolate the affected product while keeping other units in the supply chain for sale. Then they can conduct on-site effectiveness checks to ensure that only the affected products have been removed from store shelves. 

A delayed or partial response can give the impression that the organisation does not want to interrupt sales and may be more concerned with the bottom line than safety. To that end, organisations must carefully weigh the specifics of the scope of a recall and act in a thorough manner.

The last step with any crisis preparation plan is practice. Remember, the ability to react quickly is one of the main reasons for having the plan. No one should be reading it for the first time when a recall hits. A simulated recall run through provides an opportunity to work out any kinks and spot potential issues that may not have been previously apparent.

A recall is a trying time for a brand. By handling the event efficiently, honestly and quickly, companies will bounce back and be poised for long-term success. A well thought out plan backed by experience is the first step towards ensuring that the process will be as painless as possible. In todays world, recalls are an everyday occurrence. Being ready will not only protect the brand but will minimise impact to the bottom line. 

Kevin Pollack is Vice President of Recalls at ExpertRECALL.

Recommended reading: 12 product recalls that will make you pause before your next purchase

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