How to Contain Damage from a Crisis Facing Your Business

The media reports are alarming. Parents report that their infants were developing skin rashes after wearing “tag-less” shirts manufactured and sold by Carter’s.

In response to this news, Carter’s, an Atlanta-based company who manufactures and sells clothing for infants and toddlers has done an extremely good job of limiting damage to their company’s reputation.

First, they posted a link on their home page to a special section where consumers could go for more information. That section contains extensive Q&A and a special 800 number where consumers could call Carter’s for more information.

Second they jointly issued a news release on Friday with the Consumer Products Safety Commission. In this release and in their media statements, they carefully put the scale of the problem into perspective without dismissing the concerns of parents whose children have developed the rash.

Their key messages in these communications include:

  • They’ve received only 4 complaints for every 1 million garments sold.
  • They’re proactively cooperating with the government — this is not a recall.
  • Doctors have advised them that this is not a serious skin condition.
  • They’ve widely distributed enlarged photographs of the garments which are causing the rash and which ones aren’t.

While news of the product safety alert was only announced on Friday, investors seemed relatively unconcerned. Stock in the company dropped a little more than 2 percent on a day the Dow dropped 3.59 percent.

There are lessons to be learned for any crisis communications manager.


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