Crisis PR and Horsing Around

I was sent a humours message last night that read “This is getting beyond a joke now, I just opened a can of Tesco tuna and there’s a ***** seahorse in it”. This obviously made me giggle but it similarly made me think about the after effects of a national scandal.

Just by typing the words ‘horse meat ‘into Google you can see several articles and news bulletins, highlighting the latest reports. People are outraged by the thought of possibly consuming horse meat under false pretentious and have expressed their feelings loud and clearly amongst others.

Google News

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Reports from the BBC have named and shamed supermarkets and food manufacturing companies all over the world.

“Horse Meat has been detected in several branded and supermarket-own processed meat products over the past few weeks.” The activity has been noted as ‘criminal’ and actions will be taken.” Mr Paterson

Tesco was the first supermarket to be named and shamed for using horse meat in their self-branded burgers. As the Food Safety Authority of Ireland uncovered some hidden truths about what was going on behind closed doors.

So how did Tesco start to deal with this PR crisis?

Well firstly they released a mission statement on their website admitting they had encountered problems and that they were addressing this further. A public apology was displayed as this message was positioned across the homepage of the Tesco website.



It is times like this, PR agencies are called on board to manage expectations. Many agencies are specialists in damage limitation and helping to ensure that they receive the minimum of tarnish to their reputation. Messages can spread faster than ever in a digital world with open channels of communication being  widely available.

When communication channels open up!

In a crisis, you need to connect directly with your stakeholders and Tesco will have had to have coped with  thousands of inquiries being sent through to their Head Office on a regular basis. Appropriate planning and the set up of well-resourced channels beforehand  was probably at the top of their action plan.

If you are a brand as big as Tesco, that displays social media channels that customers can use, then a crisis like this would require immediate attention. I imagine Tesco set a team of people the challenge of answering queries amongst Twitter and Facebook.

The consequences for Tesco: Buying habits will definitely change as people lose trust and feel weary of selecting products from supermarkets,opting to shop for meat from their local butchers instead.

“A third of people in the UK who responded to a poll on Monday on their shopping habits said they were less likely to buy processed meat as a result of the horse meat scandal.”

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One Comment on “Crisis PR and Horsing Around

  1. Pingback: FINDING A ‘CHUNK‘ IN THE PR ARMOUR | Online Online PR Pixie

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