China in Need of Good Crisis Counseling

Every industry and every large company sooner or later faces a crisis.  That crisis can be one of many forms.  In the pharmaceutical and food industries, when a product is adulterated or causes harm, it is one of the most extreme sorts of crisis that can occur.  When it does, a smart company does the smart thing – gets good crisis counseling.

Anyone who reads a paper or listens to television has take note of the serious spate of problems connected with the Chinese food and pharmaceutical industries.  Cough syrup, toothpaste and melamine in feed and pet food name but a few of the problems that have recently come to light and been publicized.  Individually, they represent challenges, but collectively, as noted in today’s Washington Post and as noted in this space in the past, they compromise any product coming from China. 

Last week, the a study was released demonstrating that one-fifth of Chinese products for domestic use were substandard, also according to the Washington Post.  Undoubtedly, as stated in the article, the Chinese will move to clean this mess up if they want to be competitive in the world-wide market – as noted in the Post – "In recent weeks, Beijing has taken steps to improve product safety. Inspectors have closed 180 factories so far this year, seizing tons of tainted candy, pickles and seafood. "

But as anyone who has been involved in a crisis, particularly one of this magnitude, making things right again is about more than taking a few action steps such as closing plants.  It is about communicating what you are doing and being as open and transparent as possible and to ensure that news of the steps you are taking gets out to your target audiences.  This latter article on steps being taken in China to improve safety was on page F-3 of the Post.  At that rate, whatever the Chinese do, if public perceptions are also not shaped through some effective communications, they will not improve confidence levels in Chinese products. 

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