PR Assignment Essay

Submitted By Jack132656C
Words: 3391
Pages: 14

1. Critically evaluate the effectiveness of Tesco’s management of the crisis. Please compare to other examples in different crisis situations.

When the horsemeat scandal was revealed to the public in January 2013, the affected organsiations, Tesco in particular, were expected to be open about its social and ethical accountability, since their products’ quality and safety were not met to its normal satisfactory level; Tesco therefore was pressured by the public about its social, ethical and environmental responsibilities (Gordon, 2011). Just like other crisis situations, Tesco’s management in this scenario was not managed effectively and there were a lot of conflicts involved (Pole, 2014).

Followed by the contact from the Food Safety Authority (FSA), Tesco designated technical director Tim Smith as their single spokesperson to respond to the public regarding the discovery of horsemeat in burgers on the 16th January 2013 (Pole, 2014). Swann (2010) suggests that a single spokesperson should be designated during a crisis to ensure the perspective of the organisation is reflected accurately. “A single spokesperson, trained in media relations, can focus on the organisation’s positive steps and key messages (Swann, 2010).” This demonstrates Tesco’s ample effectiveness, as acquiring a single spokesperson is arguably an essential tactic that any PR practitioner should consider when dealing with a crisis. As a result of the action, on behalf of Tesco Group, Smith sincerely apologised to their customers for the distress this may cause to them, via a recorded video, this was published across different media platforms. Smith demonstrated effective management of the crisis when he confirmed that the authority has quickly came to the conclusion to withdraw the affected products from sale, and to carry out an investigation to find out exactly what happened, who’s responsible for it and how long it’s been going on for. (Smith, 2013) stated: ‘it is critical to get to the bottom of those facts so that it will never happen again’ (Guardian, 2013). Announcing an investigation is arguably a form of effective management of a crisis. According to Swann (2010:114) this is also known as one of the components of the ‘rectifying behavior strategy’. In addition, Tesco also issued their official apology on a number of national newspapers as a full-page advert, stating an investigation was underway and customers will receive refunds on affected products. (Tesco PLC, 2013, citied in Pole, 2014)
Researchers and experts in crisis management, such as Swann (2010:115) and The Page Principles (n.d.) have suggested ‘being honest’ and ‘telling the truth’ as the best principles when dealing with crisis. In most crisis situations, various truths and social constructions of the event need to be dealt with simultaneously (Swann, 2012). In the case of Tesco’s, the organisation has shown that they were being honest about the situation, and promised to take on the responsibility when responding to the event. In addition to the video response and newspaper apology about the crisis, Tesco also set up a blog called ‘Talking Shop’ to cover more details of the situation (Pole, 2014). According to the blog post entitled ‘trust’, Philip Clarke (Group Chief Executive) stated: “Trust is hard won and easily lost. Our customers trust us that, if something goes wrong, Tesco will go above and beyond what is merely necessary to look after customers and will do the right thing, immediately and wholeheartedly” (Clarke, 2013). This shows the truth that Tesco wanted to articulate was that ‘we didn’t do this, we’re sorry and we want to earn your trust back.’ This is similar to the viral crisis situation with Domino’s Pizzas in 2009 when two employees posted YouTube videos of adulterated food. In response to the crisis, the President of Domino’s Pizza- Patrick Doyle apologised on behalf of the company through a YouTube video, and attempted to reclaim trust from their customers (Young,…