The tainted pet food crisis has roiled a passionate market. And the story isn't dying: As the recalls mount, and the threat moves from cuts-in-gravy to staple dry food and even to treats, feeding pets seems like Russian roulette. How have the pet food companies involved reacted? Too little, too late--and, for the most part, the wrong way.
So what's the right way?
First, say you're sorry. Act like you really care about the animals. You may not think you owe an apology, but in pet owners' minds, you do.
Second, offer to replace the pet food in people's pantries, even it it's not your brand. Every new recall announcement creates more doubt about the food that's already out in the market. It might not be the cheapest solution, but it would buy a lot more goodwill than an ad campaign.
Third, stop being defensive. Simply reassuring people your other products are safe isn't very reassuring. After all, a few weeks ago, you were de facto assuring that all your products were safe. Do you trust the guy who says "just trust me" right after he messed up? Probably not. To regain consumers' trust, pet food brands have to give consumers reasons to trust that their food is safe.
Fourth, offer some substance. Explain what really happened, and what specific steps you are taking now to prevent something like this from happening again.