Monday, January 09, 2006

Competent P.R., Diamond Pet Food Style

Company Takes Responsibility Instead of Running for Cover in Poison Pet Food Tragedy
Stories about toxic pet food unknowingly poisoning all over the eastern U.S. continue to spread. You can't help but feel the heartbreak of hundreds of dog owners who've seen their pets die or suffer liver damage from ingesting food with dangerous amounts of aflatoxin, a fungus byproduct that grows on corn.,0,1270995.story
Diamond Pet Food realized it had a crisis on its hands when it voluntarily recalled 800,000 bags of food on Dec. 20.
Lots of products are recalled nowadays, but few after causing deaths or permanent injuries. Most recalls are prophylactic -- something may happen, so let's get this fixed now before something happens and you sue our butts off.
Diamond didn't have that luxury. It first had to deal with growing numbers of dead dogs.
COO Mark Brinkmann quickly realized damage control was about more than simply issuing a press release about the recall. He set up a call center staffed by veterinarians and offered to pay the vet bills for dog owners and compensate for lost dogs.
As he told The New York Times: "If we do the right thing, we can recover."
Mess with someone's dog and things can get ugly real quick. So, give Brinkmann credit for realizing the right thing was to help heartsick dog owners, whose quotes in newspapers only serve to help readers/animal lovers feel their pain, rather than hide under his lawyers' waistcoats and hope for the best.
That won't stop the lawsuits bound to rain down upon the company -- and this response can pretty much guarantee none will ever go to trial -- but it will limit the deluge. A little caring goes a long way.

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