submit to reddit

chemnutra.pngChemNutra, the company that imported melamine-tainted ingredients linked to the death of many thousands of dogs and cats nationwide, has called for a Pet Food Ingredients Safety Summit, tentatively set for July 14 in Las Vegas. They’ve also started a blog called The ChemNutra News and Information Blog. But it’s not really a blog. It’s a repository for press releases.
Not a single comment has been left by a reader of the ChemNutra blog. Want to know why? Because when you click on comments, the pages you’re taken to have no place to leave one.
Nobody says ChemNutra needs a blog. They could have just called it Pet Food Recall press releases and media reports or some such. By calling it a blog, and making it appear that one can leave a comment, they’ve made their situation worse, not better.
Unfortunately, the people who apparently created the blog, the crisis communications PR firm Stern & Company, didn’t bother to register ChemNutra Blog, or Pet Food Recall Blog or ChemNutra Pet Food Recall Blog, all of which are available. They used the URL which tells us several things:
1- the blog is not written by anyone at ChemNutra
2- the authors of the blog are not very blog-savvy
3- the purpose of the blog is message control, not conversation
4- nobody at ChemNutra wants to be the front person for the crisis
On the Stern site, the bio of former Wall St Journal reporter turned flak Steve Stern tells us “Steve Stern understands business crises inside and out.” And maybe he does, but it’s clearly from a pre-2.0 point of view because this blog lacks a human voice.
Apparently ChemNutra’s worried because they list not one, but two crisis communications firms as media contacts: Stern and Bernstein Crisis Management. (I also once worked at Ruder & Finn but didn’t know Jonathan Bernstein.) A message from Bernstein on the site says “I understand the role of the Internet in crisis management.” This effort doesn’t back that up.
What ChemNutra has paid for is some old-school flakery, heavy-handed and impersonal. The poison pet food crisis affected pets that many people, including me, consider as family members. We don’t want to hear corporate crap.
It’s clear that ChemNutra is just one link in the chain of the problem, and that stricter laws and better procedures are needed to clean up the mess. But it would help their cause if they put a human voice instead of a press release out front. If they are going to bother to create a blog, it needs to foster conversation.
Dear Crisis Flaks: Please see my 12 Tenets of Social Media Marketing, particularly:
V. Thy communications must pass the “who cares?” test.
VII. Thou shalt not talk shit.
VIII. Thou shalt not make someone else speak for thee.
See also:
– Richard Stacy’s brand manager’s social media manifesto
– Chris Houchens Marketing by Committee Manifesto
– Julien Smith’s The Sucker Revolution Manifesto