How to manage your communications and the media during a product recall

For food manufacturers the words ‘product recall’ can be enough to cause sleepless nights, but unfortunately having to remove goods from sale due to a manufacturing issue does sometimes happen. Food recalls take place for a number of reasons, they can be a requirement or voluntary and more often than not come as a result of issues such as mislabelling or contamination.

It’s the last thing that any food manufacturer wants and although there are steps in place to deal with the issue internally, it can be difficult to determine how to handle the situation externally.

Whatever the reason, recalls can have a negative effect on the company’s reputation. To reduce the risk of this happening, it is important to know how to respond if news of the problem starts to spread on social media and in the press. Here our crisis management team offers some advice on what to do should this happen.

Bring in the professionals

Releasing a statement about the recall is a must. A product recall can be one of the most costly issues a manufacturer can face both in financial and reputational terms. They can result in consumers and customers losing confidence in your company and the risk of losing orders, which can consequently bring down the value of the business.

A badly managed recall or poorly drafted statement can make matters worse. It is therefore imperative that the entire process is handled by someone who has the expertise to protect your company’s reputation and reduce the risk of losing any further orders.

A PR agency that specialises in crisis communications for businesses, like our team here Dragonfly PR, can handle everything from drafting the statement so that it is both sincere and informative, whilst ensuring the wording is right for your company and audience, to distributing it to the media.

Take control of the situation

Once distributed, you should also post the statement on your website as soon as possible and share a link across your company and/or brand’s social media pages, which will be one of the first places customers will look for information. If you don’t publish clear and concise details on platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, the chances are the issue can snowball as users start to share the details themselves, often leaving out some of the most important facts such as batch codes. This can result in people being unsure about which products you are actually pulling from stores and consequently runs the risk of reducing sales of those that are unaffected.

Keep your trade customers informed

Once the statement is released should also contact your trade customers and not only inform them that the response has been issued, but to make sure they fully understand the recall process and what you require from them. It may also be helpful to give them the contact details for your PR team or communications manager, that way they can get in touch with them should the media ask for a comment.

Be honest

Product recalls can become problematic if something is being kept under wraps. Quickly taking responsibility can send the right message early on. So, when you do share details about an issue, it is always better to be honest about what the problem is and how you are working to resolve it. The last thing you want to do it get caught out to be misleading your customers and the media, especially if the recall is due to a sensitive issue such as food allergens.

Better still prepare in advance

It is always beneficial for any company to have a pre-planned crisis communications strategy in place. This should take into account any potential risks that have been identified during regular safety and quality audits.

The strategy should include a series of statement templates that can be amended to suit the situation should a recall ever take place. However, it is important to remember that every situation is different and whether your audience is b2b or b2c it is better to release a response that is sincere. Ensure that each statement expresses empathy and that you are genuinely concerned and are working to resolve the issue as soon as possible. This should instil confidence in your company and management processes and go some way to protecting and rebuilding trust in your brand and products.

Alternatively, it would be beneficial to consider appointing a reputable PR Agency that not only understands the importance of planning for a crisis, but also has experience in working within the food manufacturing sector and managing product recalls.

Here at Dragonfly PR, we work with our clients to ensure all potential crises are accounted for. Our team also has years of experience in dealing with crisis communications. We deal with the issues both sensitively and in a manner that takes your company’s needs, values and ethics into account, as well as the needs of your customers, to ensure damage to our client’s reputation is kept to a minimum.

For more information, or for a no obligation chat about how we can work with your company to develop a strong crisis communications strategy, contact our team on 0114 349 5345 or email

Dragonfly PR is a Sheffield-based PR and content marketing agency that specialises in media relations, event management and organic SEO for constructionmanufacturing and food companies. We are a friendly bunch of Public Relations and digital marketing experts with more than fifteen years' experience working with companies based throughout Yorkshire, the East Midlands and the North West.

Call us on: 0114 349 5341