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In Recall of Tainted Hot Pockets, Social Media Response Leaves Bitter Taste


February 20, 2014

As part of a larger meat recall by Rancho Feeding Corp., Nestlé has voluntarily recalled two of its microwavable Hot Pockets products because they contain “diseased and unsound animal contents.”

As Digiday.com reports, no illnesses or deaths have been attributed to the tainted food, but fallout for the brand has been fast and furious — especially on the Internet, where aside from a Facebook announcement the company has remained largely mum.

In the social media era, how a company responds online during moments of crisis can determine whether or not a brand bounces back. Hot Pockets has issued a press release and posted a Facebook announcement about the recall, instructing consumers to return the affected products.

Many reader comments on Facebook have expressed anger and fear, but Hot Pockets has reportedly been sending these people cookie-cutter responses — a “major mistake,” says Erik Bernstein, social media manager at Bernstein Crisis Management.

In situations like this, brands “need to show they are sorry and that they are taking action so it doesn’t happen again, and social media is the best way to do that,” says Peter LaMotte, senior vice president at the PR firm Levick. Brands should “show they are a collection of people trying to make a product and not a corporation trying to make a profit — this will serve them in the long run, and those who are advocates of the brand will take the banner and carry it for them.” — Greg Beaubien



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