Whether it’s a product recall or malicious behavior by employees, companies are launching multi-prong responses that make use of the skills and training that business and technical communicators exemplify.
Unfortunately, there is little information or training available to business and technical communicators regarding responses to accusations of wrongdoing (or apologia). Using rhetorical theory to analyze apologetics in business writing and technical communication will help you gain valuable practice in conflict communication within a corporate structure.
- First, take some time to research and discuss real product recall situations or accusations of wrongdoing in the news. Look at press releases, corporate websites, and social networking sites that were/are used by the company to address the situation. You are not required to chose something healthcare related, although it would be a great idea!
- Select a case from the news. Provide a brief analysis of the situation (including what happened, why it was perceived as being wrong, and what the company’s messaging should be to overcome the problem).
- Devise a plan to address the problem/situation using the corporate website and social networking. Here is an initial list of questions to help you get started:
- What needs to be communicated?
- How can/should the company’s corporate website be used?
- What role can/should social media play?
- What documents will consumers need to see and download?
- Is video important? If so, how? To show a CEO apologize? To demonstrate how to find product numbers and identify recalled products? To provide instructions for fixing a product defect?
- Discuss the benefits of your plan for the customers and for the company.
Example sources (feel free to use or Google “Company product recalls”):
(Links to an external site.)
- Mattel: Toy recall (Links to an external site.)
- (Links to an external site.)Baby food recall (Links to an external site.)
Your assignment must include the following:
- An brief analysis of the situation (1 page):
- Discuss the specific issues
- Develop a response plan that addresses the following (2-3 pages):
a. What needs to be communicated?
d. What should the company message be?
f. What are the benefits of your plan for the customers and for the company?