Managing A Crisis

It’s funny how some things stick with you throughout your life, no matter how long ago you experienced them. One of the most memorable quotes I ever heard came from a representative of Pepsi-Cola Co. at a 1997 seminar on crisis management. “When I talk about dealing with a crisis, I’m talking about when you go through one,” said the speaker. “Because, unfortunately, the reality is you probably will.”

I was vividly reminded of this comment during my winter month travels. Like many of you, I was flying to one of the winter ag equipment shows during this year’s infamous Valentine’s Day snowstorm, which severely hampered air travel across much of the country. The most notorious example of the delays this caused involved JetBlue, which spent the better part of two weeks trying to work its way through a serious crisis with customers, employees, and shareholders. The jury is still out whether the company will ultimately overcome this incident.

During my time in the beverage industry, I remember two high profile crisis management incidents taking place. One involved the discovery of benzene in bottles of Perrier sparkling water in 1990. The other concerned the alleged finding of hypodermic needles in cans of Diet Pepsi in 1993. In the long run, both provided important lessons in how to handle (and not to handle) a crisis. First, let’s review Perrier.

When the benzene was found in bottles in North Carolina, the company spent several days denying there was a problem (and even accusing the U.S. authorities that did the testing of having a French bias). Once convinced of the problem, Perrier spent several more days shifting from explanation to explanation before finally issuing a product recall of 160 million bottles.

On the other hand, Pepsi immediately acknowledged the Diet Pepsi problem, investigated, found evidence of a hoax, and spent the next few weeks rebuilding the brand’s image.

This led to Pepsi developing what it called a Crisis Management blueprint. It spelled out the “seven deadly sins” of crisis management. These were chaos (no one taking charge), poor communication, having multiple point persons, lack of trained back-ups, making assumptions, making accusations, and neglecting day-to-day business during the emergency.

To avoid these missteps, Pepsi suggested the following seven solutions:

1). Clearly define lines of authority.
2). Plan an appropriate order for contacting accounts and employees.
3). Appoint one person at each location as the primary point person.
4). Train back-ups to step in when the primary person is unavailable.
5). Make decisions on facts only.
6). Perform disciplinary action through appropriate channels.
7). Day-to-day operations should continue as normal.

As a measure of the effectiveness of these steps, consider the fact that Diet Pepsi can be found in any store in America today. The same can’t be said for Perrier.

With retailers entering their busiest time of year, the chance for a crisis is there. It would wise to heed Pepsi’s warning and plan ahead, incorporating some of these crisis management steps into your operations. As Perrier proved, businesses are easy to ruin if management mishandles a crisis.

Leave a Reply

Featured Stories
Crop InputsWorld Health Organization Report Contradicts Scientific Findings On Glyphosate
March 23, 2015
A new report from the World Health Organization has classified glyphosate with a “2A” rating as a probable carcinogen, a Read More
HerbicidesMARCH MADNESS: Industry Rallies Around Glyphosate Safety Amid Troubling Report
March 20, 2015
A newly published report from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies the herbicide glyphosate as a "2A-rated possible carcinogen" and the ag industry responds by circling the wagons. Read More
Chuck Gates, Ohio CCA of the Year
ManagementOABA Honors 2015 Certified Crop Adviser Of The Year
March 16, 2015
Chuck Gates, of Tiffin, OH, has been named the 2015 Certified Crop Adviser of the Year by the Ohio Certified Crop Adviser Board and will receive $1,500 provided by DuPont Pioneer. Read More
FertilizerVolatile Weather Conditions May Change How Farmers Handle Crop Nutrients
March 12, 2015
As weather patterns change, some farmers are finding they are losing more nitrogen from their fertilizers to the surrounding environment. Read More
Top 100 Articles
CropLife 100BRANDT Commemorates National Ag Day
March 20, 2015
The Illinois agriculture community gathered at BRANDT global headquarters on March 18 to celebrate National Ag Day behind this year's theme Sustaining Future Generations. Read More
Wheat Growers, North Central Farmers Elevator Pursue Merger
CropLife 100Wheat Growers, North Central Farmers Elevator Pursue Merger
March 3, 2015
Two CropLife 100 retailers — South Dakota Wheat Growers (ranked No. 11) and North Central Farmers Elevator (No. 19) — have entered into a Letter of Intent to unify the two companies into a newly named cooperative. Read More
Growmark Group
CropLife 100GROWMARK In 2015: Back, To The Future
March 2, 2015
The nation’s third largest ag retail organization is simultaneously moving forward while remembering its past. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Expands Sanders Brand In The South
February 27, 2015
Pinnacle has acquired Hopkins Seed and Chemical in Qulin, MO, which expands the company's Sanders brand to nine Southern states. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Launches New Providence Agriculture Location In Indiana
February 27, 2015
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings — ranked No. 6 on the CropLife 100 — has established a new retail location in New Castle, IN, which will operate as part of Pinnacle's Providence Agriculture brand. Read More
Carl Casale of CHS
CropLife 100Cooperative CHS Returns $518 Million To Owners
February 23, 2015
The 2015 cash return to owners is based on CHS net income of $1.1 billion, the company's second highest on record. Read More
Latest News
Crop InputsSyngenta Louisiana Plant Poised For 2015 Production
March 26, 2015
As the 2015 planting season gets underway, growers across the country will need crop protection products to combat pests and Read More
Lake Erie Nutrient Stewardship
LegislationOhio Lawmakers Finalize Phosphorus Restrictions
March 25, 2015
State lawmakers on Wednesday finalized new rules designed to curb toxic algal blooms on Lake Erie, calling the regulations a major step forward in addressing the problem. Read More
Spreaders17 Fertilizer Spreaders For 2015
March 25, 2015
Manufacturers shoot for versatility and accuracy in this year's crop of fertilizer spreaders. Read More
Industry NewsMonty’s Hires Mid-South Product Consultant
March 25, 2015
Monty's Plant Food Co. has hired Matt Woodring as a Product Consultant for portions of Central Kentucky and Tennessee.    Read More
StewardshipMapShots Integrates With DriftWatch
March 23, 2015
Growers and agricultural providers using AgStudio FARM and AgStudio PRO can now view vital information about specialty crops and apiaries through a recent integration with the DriftWatch Specialty Crop Site Registry from FieldWatch, Inc. Read More
Crop InputsWorld Health Organization Report Contradicts Scientific…
March 23, 2015
A new report from the World Health Organization has classified glyphosate with a “2A” rating as a probable carcinogen, a Read More
Eric SfiligojSeed Treatment Stays Necessary
March 20, 2015
Grower-customers looking to scale back spending in 2015 won’t consider seed treatment, say experts. Read More
HerbicidesMARCH MADNESS: Industry Rallies Around Glyphosate Safet…
March 20, 2015
A newly published report from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies the herbicide glyphosate as a "2A-rated possible carcinogen" and the ag industry responds by circling the wagons. Read More
ManagementRetail Week: Precision survey, a technology acquisition…
March 20, 2015
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sflilgoj discuss recent travel, the upcoming precision adoption survey, and an unusual sighting at a Read More
CropLife 100BRANDT Commemorates National Ag Day
March 20, 2015
The Illinois agriculture community gathered at BRANDT global headquarters on March 18 to celebrate National Ag Day behind this year's theme Sustaining Future Generations. Read More
Crop InputsBioSafe Launching TerraGrow Soil Inoculant
March 20, 2015
TerraGrow is a blend of beneficial bacterial and fungal spores and nutrients carefully designed to promote healthier soil and crops. Read More
Winter Wheat
AdjuvantsMax Systems Debuts New Adjuvant NanoRevolution 2.0
March 18, 2015
Added to a tank mix of glyphosate at the conservative rate of two to four ounces per acre, NanoRevolution 2.0 has proven effective in killing resistant weed species that had already had up to two applications of the leading glyphosate product. Read More
Photo credit: United Soybean Board/the Soybean Checkoff
Seed/BiotechAgnition Launches Microbial Catalyst Seed Treatment
March 18, 2015
Agnition it has launched Commence for Soybeans, a microbial catalyst seed treatment for soybeans that stimulates microbial activity for healthier soil and a superior growth environment. Read More
4R Certified, Nutrient Stewardship Council,
StewardshipTyler Grain & Fertilizer Now 4R Certified
March 18, 2015
The 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program has announced Tyler Grain & Fertilizer Co. in Smithville, OH, has been added to Read More
V.R. "Swede" Roskam
ManagementFormer MACA President V.R. ‘Swede’ Roskam P…
March 17, 2015
Former Mid America CropLife Association President V.R. “Swede” Roskam died unexpectedly in Wheaton, IL, on March 13, 2015 at the age of 85. Read More
corn field
Industry NewsNovaSource Announces Organizational Changes
March 17, 2015
Bob Gestring has accepted the position of Director of Sales, North America and Kyle Coleman has accepted a promotion to the role of Marketing Director, North America. Read More
Chuck Gates, Ohio CCA of the Year
ManagementOABA Honors 2015 Certified Crop Adviser Of The Year
March 16, 2015
Chuck Gates, of Tiffin, OH, has been named the 2015 Certified Crop Adviser of the Year by the Ohio Certified Crop Adviser Board and will receive $1,500 provided by DuPont Pioneer. Read More
Bee on a Sedum
StewardshipNew Bayer Bee Initiative To Provide Pollinators With Ne…
March 16, 2015
Bayer CropScience is launching Feed a Bee, a major initiative to increase forage for honey bees and other pollinators, including growing 50 million flowers and providing additional forage acreage in 2015. Read More