Pink Slime, and Other Urgent Matters

What happens when your company or organization falls out of favour in the eyes of your stakeholders?

Stakeholders are too important to ignore because stakeholders include the community in which your company does business.  Without their business, making a profit would be impossible.  In fact the Standford Research Institute defines stakeholders as “those groups without whose support the organization would cease to exist.”

Stakeholders are sometimes well informed, while other times they are reactive.  That’s why it is important to decide on the type of image you want to present to them.  Hopefully this is a transparent image! However, transparency isn’t enough when it comes to communicating ones brand, mission, values, or general opinions.  In addition to building trust with stakeholders using transparency, organizations should avoid association with guilty parties:  Employees and spokespeople must be trained to know about key messaging, mission, values, and so fourth.  We have all heard of brands who have been tarnished by a misspoken word from a spokesperson.

If you encounter a PR disaster, that is when it is most important to stop and think about what to do next before you act.  Try to think of things from the perspective of your stakeholders so that you can craft the right message to send them.  Without this strategy, you might end up like BPI (Beef Products Inc.), who was sued in 2012 due to public backlash regarding their ‘pink slime’ product (lean finely textured beef).  Pink Slime is filler product that is used with inexpensive meat products for use in grocery or fast food chain hamburgers for example.  Pink Slime received some bad PR, and then BPI was sued because it did not effectively address its stakeholders.

Jamie Oliver, who created much of the press surrounding BPI, was much more successful in targeting his stakeholders when he took his position against Pink Slime.  He knows who his audience is, and acted accordingly.


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