Don't Be Nutty: Corporate Responsibility and Communicating Change

Kellogg's recently announced a major change in the ingredients of a few of its popular products. The news elicited pushback from parents of children with food allergies and more than 25,000 people have signed a petition asking Kellogg's to reconsider the addition of peanut flour to its products frequently consumed by children.

"Your decision will put at risk thousands of peanut-allergic consumers who already purchase these brands."

"Furthermore, shoppers that have no reason to believe that a cheese cracker might contain peanuts may never read your advisories, endangering themselves or the children in their care."Kellogg Company is a trusted food brand at tables around the world, with more than a 100-year history. When it comes to communicating a sudden change that affects a large audience, here are the basics.

  1. Be transparent. Let people know the rationale behind your decision. Control the message by giving all the facts. Fewer details upfront leave more room for speculation, and we all know that misinformation can spread like wildfire.
  1. Communicate widely. Use all avenues available to let those impacted know - media releases, social media, website newsrooms, blogs, etc. Open all lines of communication and make it easy to access information. If consumers have to dig for answers, they'll feel like you are hiding something.
  1. Be ready to respond. Stand up for your decision. Ensure key talking points are available to spokespeople, but also be ready to reevaluate your messaging based on the response of your audience. In Kellogg's case, losing the canned responses and using a more personalized, empathetic tone could go a long way in showing customers they are listening to their concerns.

Bottom line - communicate responsibly. Need advice on communicating change? We'll help you put your best foot forward. And, if things get out of hand, be prepared to jump into crisis mode with our FREE eBook.In full disclosure, both my son and I have peanut allergies.