SILENCE IN THE TURMOIL OF CRISIS 4
Silencein the Turmoil of Crisis
Therewere 714 salmonella cases as well as nine deaths in 43 states in2009, which were led by PCA’s salmonella-tainted peanut commoditiesthat were utilized in approximately 3900 food items (Millner &Sellnow, n.d). There were failures in the manufacturing practices,and they included improper maintenance of equipment and unsanitarypremises. These practices tested positive for salmonella, startingtheir crisis as well as an organizational communication failure.Despite PCA knowing that there were complications with foodpoisoning, they did not offer sufficient communication to the public.Indeed, they did not provide public statements concerning the recallof their product until 13thJanuary 2009 following a finding that the salmonella cases wereassociated with the practices of the company (Millner & Sellnow,n.d). The unprofessional practices led to a large-scaleorganizational communication failure since the public rose toconfusion by not having access to any information on the issue. Thelack of adequate responsibility of PCA for their wrong doings led toethical dilemmas as well as a communication failure.
Entitiesmay desire to stay silent during the time of crisis due to the needof protecting their operations and continuity. Most of theorganizations stay silent in times of complications because they fearthat having open communication with the public may work against themin legal cases that may result from their actions. Another reason whyorganizations may think of staying silent is due to the need ofprotecting its stakeholders. Large organizations may take the silentapproach when the harm caused is less to the public.
Proxycommunications for the company emerged as the first line of defensefor consumers who were very anxious to learn more concerning therecall as well as how to avoid illness (Millner & Sellnow, n.d).Therefore, it can be indicated that the proxy communications werejustified during the crisis because they helped consumers to knowmore concerning the product of the company as well as how they couldavoid illnesses.
Ithink all the organizations and agencies in the case were equallyjustified in assuming the role of proxy communicators. This isbecause they were in a position to inform consumers about theirsafety. This was a very critical role for the agencies and companiesto assume. Therefore, there was a justification for their involvementas proxy communicators.
Proxycommunicators offered messages that were designed to clarify thesituation and empower consumers to protect themselves. The potentialcomplications for these communicators could be winning the confidenceof the consumers. In the crisis, since the PCA decided to playsilent, it was very difficult for the proxy communicators to defendthe organization to the consumers given that the entity had actedunethically.
Incase PCA decided to communicate during the crisis, the message thatcould be most important to stakeholders could be the way forwardtowards handling the issue so that the operations of the company werenot affected. This could have rekindled the hopes of stakeholderssince the operations of the company could proceed as usual. To theconsumers, the organization could have countered the claim byproducing healthy products.
IfI were the head, I would engage the employees in constantcommunication concerning the processes of manufacturing the productand ensure that they produce healthy products. To the media, I wouldensure that I hold regular discussions that focus on defending thecompany’s products. Alternatively, I would assure the consumersthat they will get safe products by focusing on a renewed productionstrategy.
Millner,G.A. & Sellnow, L.T. (n.d). CaseStudy 9: .