Crisis Communications – Responding vs Reacting

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Whole Foods Pre-Peeled Oranges 1Earlier this week I heard about Whole Foods being under fire for selling whole pre-peeled oranges in plastic containers. Very quickly, as a result of social media, Whole Foods (and people who would purchase the product) were being attacked for being too lazy to peel an orange and also the waste of the plastic container around the orange.

The good news in this "crisis communications" situation is that Whole Foods responded very quickly. They responded to an initial Tweet that was going viral and they apologized. Not only did they respond but they did so very quickly. They decided immediately to pull the pre-peeled oranges from the shelves.Whole Foods Pre-Peeled Oranges 2

But, perhaps they reacted too quickly? Because now there is backlash against Whole Foods for pulling the pre-peeled oranges.

I believe what Whole Foods needs to recognize is that there is a
big difference between responding to a situation and reacting to a
situation. They could have still responded immediately to the Tweet and let their followers know that they were looking into the situation. Next they could have devised a plan, working with their public relations team of course, on what would be the best plan overall to react would be and then moved forward with that plan.

An organization is never going to make 100% of their customers happy, but
perhaps listening to feedback from all consumers before Whole Foods Pre-Peeled Orangesreacting and making a rash decision could have had a more positive outcome.

(Side note: I don’t know about you, but I potentially like the idea of a pre-peeled orange. Sometimes the work it takes to peel an orange will make me just grab an apple.)

What do you think Whole Foods should have done differently?

Rachel Brockway
Rachel Brockway
Senior Account Executive Rachel is a native Arizonian, who enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, playing tennis, reading and social media. She’s a busy mom and is passing the idea of volunteerism onto her son. Check out Rachel's Full Bio

1 Comment

  1. You’re right when you say that organizations may not be able to make 100% of their customers happy. But they should definitely try.

    I hope there was some discussion before moving forward with this to determine any potential challenges it might create. Did they bring in their PR people? Who knows. But bringing them in after the fact moves it all into crisis mode.

    My bigger concern – whether Whole Foods or Lands End (Gloria Steinem misstep http://www.cnbc.com/2016/02/26/lands-end-apologizes-for-gloria-steinem-feature-amid-backlash.html) or any other brand, if you are going to go forward with a campaign, consider the consequences and then stick with it. Sometimes the backing away is worse than moving forward.

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