Crisis Management/Pepsi Syringe Scare
Success rarely happens overnight, but failure often does. Organizations and more often businesses in particular will face critical moments at some point in time. How a company handles a crisis creates a lasting impression that ultimately harms or enhances the company's reputation, public image and in turn, its future. Therefore, top executives in every business and organization should begin each day by saying a very simple boy scout phrase, "Let's be prepared!"
Crisis management is a plan of action to be implemented quickly once a potentially damaging situation occurs. The approaches to managing through negative situation continue to become more sophisticated. There is no question that the greatest weakness in crisis management planning is the failure to decide beforehand who, when and what you will do once a crisis occurs. Planning ahead will only enhance the outcome of the crisis. Once and event occurs, there is little, if any, time for a considered, thoughtful approach. When syringes were found in Diet Pepsi cans in Seattle, the company quickly responded to the public concern. Their preparation was clearly evident in the company's response to the crisis.
Another aspect of crisis management involves the importance of managing the media by controlling the flow of negative information in a responsible manner. Success lies in being candid and honest while not exposing the organization to unnecessary scrutiny.
In the 1993 crisis of hypodermic syringes, reportedly being found in Diet Pepsi cans, the company demonstrated effective communications management stemming from the company's openness with the media. The Alpac Bottling Company, which was the local canning and distributor of Diet Pepsi, immediately opened its door to media and invited them to tour and film the plant's canning operations. The company deal with the media in an organized, aggressive and timely fashion. Their efforts resulted in positive media coverage during and after the crisis, which in turn reflected positively on the company's image.
Silence and denial are two reasons why Firestone brand has very little credibility. Statement that begin with "What if..." will haunt the company for years. What if they held a news conference years ago and said that they were going to make an immediate recall action? Would our nation look at the company any differently if this did occur?
There are two keywords that sum up crisis management and the Pepsi syringe scare, plan and communicate. It is these two very simple words that are so meaningful when dealing with a crisis situation. It is impossible for companies to control their destinations. But with a clear plan, such as Pepsi's plan, the mission and values of a company will be reflected properly with the outcome of the crisis.