Friday, November 27, 2009

VERITAS: FUMBLE -CRIB CRISIS


When crisis hits, it can be tempting to run and hide or to become defensive. How you deal with a crisis can make or break your company’s reputation. That’s the challenge B.C.’s Stork Craft Manufacturing Inc. was faced with this week as it became the centre of the largest crib recall in Canadian and U.S. history. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission announced the voluntary recall of 2.1 million of the company's drop-side cribs, saying that more than 100 injuries and four infant deaths had been linked to the products. Health Canada issued a similar warning. The news sent parents scrambling, crashing the company’s website and jamming the phone lines for hours. Stork Craft’s President and CEO, Jim Moore, responded by shifting the blame to caregivers, telling reporters that the deaths were a result of improper use, "We do have to tell people these cribs are safe, if you follow the assembly instructions correctly and heed the warnings.” Not only did he essentially absolve his company of any blame, he did not express any concern or sympathy for panicked parents. Empathy is a powerful yet often overlooked communications tool in a crisis situation. By expressing genuine concern, Stork Craft could have established a human connection with the people affected who might have been a bit more understanding about the situation. Instead, the company is now facing a long list of class-action lawsuits and a Veritas Fumble.

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