Category Archives: spinach

Pope, Spinach and my response to comments

Some interesting comments from Patrick and dubyus on my posts about the pope and spinach (separate posts, no obvious connections).

Re dubyus comments. Agreed the Pope could have used other references but he didn’t. Let me ask you this, dubyus: Can you imagine an equal reaction in the western/post-Christian world if a prominent Muslim leader were to quote a 14th century source that equally disparaged Christianity? Of course not. We are accustomed to the most outrageous disparagement of our religion and its leaders including Christ himself and do not react in this way. The promised violence against anyone espousing any religion other than Islam expressed in reaction to the Pope’s comments are evidence for the one-side nature of “offense” in this current debate. There is no equivalence here.

I stand by my comments about the Pope’s message being ill-advised–precisely because of this inequality of political correctness. I also agree with dubyus that in retrospect, the Pope’s apology fell far short of what was needed. He apologized for the reaction in large part. It fell short.

As to the comments about moderate Muslim leaders taking a stronger role in healing the rifts caused by extremists and unfortunate statements like this, where are they? If the Western media has ignored all the action that has taken place, then I implore the Muslim world to do what the rest of us in crisis communication advise our clients: when the media won’t carry an important message, you have to take it direct. Ads can be purchased. Messages sent by email and snail mail. Websites can be launched and promoted. Blogs can enable people to engage in conversation. There is much that can be done and it is not really an acceptable excuse to say that the media won’t cover it. It is too important.

By the way, thank you for dialoging about this. We may not agree, but it sure is helpful when people start talking. And you have helped me understand better a different viewpoint.

Patrick on spinach–you are right of course that the best way to deal with crises is prevention,a nd likely this could have been prevented. But those of us in crisis communications need to deal continually with what happens when people don’t take the prudent and necessary steps. So I’m not sure how helpful it is in talking about a crisis communications response to say it should have been prevented. Talking about how it will be prevented in the future is very helpful–but that was exactly my point.

Now– I am on my way out the door for a weeklong trip. First, a little more archery hunting, then working with one of the nation’s largest universities on crisis communications planning, then to Houston for a user group meeting for PIER and an exciting seminar with the Global Energy Management Institute and World Energy.

I’ll try to keep up while on the road, but in the meantime, keep those thoughts coming. Artisansweets–I would have commented but I’m too much of a hurry so I will get back to you later.

Spinach industry fighting back

Ad Age magazine reports the spinach industry is planning on spending a bunch of money trying to rescue the $300 million dollar industry. Already there are reports of farmers near Salinas, CA having to plow their spinach crops into the ground because of the FDA ban and collapse of demand following the e.coli outbreak.

E.coli is dangerous and all precautions should be taken. But e.coli doesn’t come from spinach. I won’t mention where I understand it comes from nor will I speculate on how it got on organic spinach from a healthy sounding brand like “Earthbound.” Seems to me the most important thing is to help consumers understand how that nasty stuff got on perfectly good stuff and what those involved in the processing are doing to make certain it doesn’t happen again.

The article references the Odwalla e.coli problem and steps taken after that. I haven’t studied it but it seems to me Odwalla is one of those few major reputation/safety crises that turned out pretty good for the company. Very appropriate to have the PR manager from Edelman invovled in that commenting on this situation–and his comments are right on target.

What I find interesting about this situation is the possible impact on “organic.” Seems to me people pay a lot more for stuff labeled organic than typically can be justified by the benefit, but that is only my perception. But if they are doing that for safety reason, what impact will this have. Sure, it has nothing to do with the organic categorization of the product, or does it. After all, if they don’t use commercial fertilizer, what do they use to fertilize organic spinach. And where does e.coli come from again?

Whatever, explantion is needed to reduce impact not just on spinach but on the organic labeling.