News outlets pile on leafy greens following findings from the CDC
If we were spinach farmers, we’d be calling a crisis management firm today. In an example of how the way news is reported can create crises, most major news publications this week ran a story on the CDC’s latest research into food contamination, which carries the potential to start a small panic among shoppers.
Headlines like, “Leafy Greens Leading Source of Food Poisoning Illnesses, Study Shows” (HuffPost), “Leafy Greens Responsible for 46% of Food-borne Infections, CDC Says” (LA Times), and “Study Says Leafy Greens Top Food Poisoning Source” (ABC News), are constructed to get consumers worked up about how dangerous greens can be, while the facts inside the report actually point to contamination in meat and poultry as the most devastating, accounting for 29% of all contamination-related deaths.
For those up and down the leafy-veg supply chain, we would recommend using education and information-sharing as the best crisis management strategy to mitigate the potential for reputation and revenue loss.
Prepare a statement attesting to the rigorous safety procedures you have in place and share it with any media outlets that look to your for comment. Even better, get in touch with one of those media contacts whom you’ve fostered a positive relationship with (you’ve been working on that, right?) and ask if they’d like to tour your facility, or offer to supply enough info for an easy article. Launch a “leafy green safety” section on your website with links to supportive stats and tips on properly cleaning produce.
Regardless of which specific moves you make, ensure that in all of your communications you present an easy way for stakeholders to ask questions or address concerns.
Negative reporting can affect you whether you’ve done something wrong or not, but by being proactive you can lessen its impact. When you’re taking flak from the press, don’t sit silent, talk back!
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