Communication Strategies in Product Harm Crises: When Words Matter
Product harm crises are, according to many, “a firm’s worse nightmare” , and can have serious consequences on public health, financial assets and reputation: they can both cause injuries, or even life loss, and on the other hand sell out, market-share and financial losses , ,   . Moreover, product harm crisis can irredeemably spoil brand equity, ruin a company’s reputation  and affect consumer’s loyalty . If the response to the crisis is what the company does and says during the emergency, much of the literature, shows that the way this response takes shape can affect the company material and immaterial value      . Successfully handling a crisis is therefore essential and communication is an integral part of the crises management effort. It is therefore extremely important that companies take on the role of communicating seriously. Product harm crises, by definition, take on very different connotations and require heterogeneous strategies. Whatever strategy a firm’s embraces, corporate communication during crises can be divided into two phases: the phase of the initial response, and the phase of reputation recovery. In many cases, if the first phase is conducted properly, the efforts required in the second phase will be less and it will be easier to regain public trust and market shares and finally bring the company back to the pre-crisis normal situation. The purpose of this article is to address the first phase of the initial response to a product harm crises, learning by concrete examples of recent history that can help to identify some "lessons learned" and isolate the patterns that most often produce positive results.
Index Terms— communication management, crisis communication, product harm crises, recall.