An ArmchairMayor.ca editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
BEING SOMEWHAT a student of crisis management, I’m always interested when big corporations face major PR problems.
Do they apologize right away or try to avoid it? Do they take ownership of the problem? Do they reach out to their customers and try to make it right? Do they have a plan to make sure it doesn’t happen again?
Headline-making corporate crises happen almost every day. There are countless examples of handling them the right way, and the wrong way.
You might remember the BP oil crisis, the tampered Tylenol scare, the Volkswagen emissions scandal, the Carnival cruise ship that broke down at sea.
Sometimes, the problems could have been avoided, sometimes, stuff just happens. It’s how corporations deal with it that can make the difference between survival and failure.
One of the most recent examples in Canada is the Loblaws price-fixing scandal.
Loblaws has admitted it was involved in fixing bread prices for years. In atonement, the company has offered customers $25 gift cards for use at Loblaws stores and affiliates.
The move has been criticized as PR spin — no doubt, not the reaction the store wanted.
Save-On has weighed in, too. While Save-On was not involved in the price fixing, it is making its own $25 offer to customers through its More Rewards incentive program, with the option of spending in store or donating it to the food bank.
Not bad, but here’s the really cool part. Erwin’s Bakery in Kamloops came up with the idea of accepting the Loblaws gift cards at its own bakery, giving customers a $25 Erwin’s punch card in return, and then donating the Loblaws cards to charity.
The charities win, and Erwin’s gets to show off its product.
I’m not into giving free plugs for businesses but I love it when a local company can take somebody’s negative and turn it into a positive. And a little bakery in Kamloops has just shown the big guys how it should be done.
I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops. He writes editorials for CFJC and publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca website.