Managing a Crisis Communication: A Case Study of Findus

The Beginning of the Crisis – Recap of Events On February 8, 2013, in England, the public learned that Findus lasagnas labeled as 100% beef actually contained horse meat. The news spread rapidly on social media platforms, particularly on Twitter, turning the confirmed information into a food scandal. Other products such as bolognese lasagnas, Parmentier hash, and moussaka were also affected, escalating the crisis to a European level. The brand’s image was tarnished as a result.

Findus promptly removed its products from the shelves, but the damage was done. The information went viral, with social media once again showcasing its rapid spread. As the news circulated, internet users, fueled by consumer deception, inadequate traceability, and fraudulent labeling, reacted with jokes, parodies, and logo alterations, expressing their anger towards the brand.

Findus responded by stating that the products “pose no health risk” and “apologized for the compliance issue to consumers.”

Crisis Management: The Right Moves Findus initiated with a press release on the same day, a commendable step in responding with tact and apologizing to the public.

Missteps However, Findus failed to anticipate or adequately address its crisis communication on social media platforms. Like many internet users, I searched for information on the brand’s Facebook and Twitter accounts to no avail. Findus could have engaged with its communities had it managed its online presence proactively.

Is the Findus brand attentive to its consumers? How to Prepare and Manage Crisis Communication on Social Media?

Before the Crisis • Establish a presence on social media platforms • Conduct monitoring and listen to consumer feedback online

During the Crisis • Identify, if possible, the source of the rumor/information leading to the crisis • Evaluate the severity of the information • Provide a transparent response commensurate with the severity • Apologize • Show concern and attentiveness • Be available and responsive • Disseminate press releases and information on social media • Avoid attempting to conceal, mask, or deny confirmed information • Do not censor or delete comments and messages, but respond to them

After the Crisis The most delicate phase involves regaining control of communication and rebuilding trust in the brand within its community. It is crucial to pay particular attention to online reputation management.

Bad publicity sometimes offers an opportunity to rebound by mastering communication and demonstrating a commitment to considering user feedback.

Actively listen to your community.

Just because you are silent doesn’t mean others are too.

A brand’s absence on social media does not prevent users from forming opinions and expressing them. Social media is a powerful communication tool, and your reputation likely precedes you, for better or worse.

Use them to your advantage!

Listen, monitor, and let it be known that you are listening. If you manage your communication effectively, crisis situations will be better handled, and rumors will be more anticipated.

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