Archives for May 6, 2009

Fight for the right to eat bacon: Swine Flu is a PR nightmare for pork industry

Photo by Nastassia A. Davis. All Rights Reserved 2009.

You know the saying, it’s on every outlet on the Internet:

“It was once said that a black man would be president “when pigs fly” indeed 100 days into Obama’s presidency, Swine flu.”

Yea, and the swine-workers across the nation are flying into “OMG!” mode. Yep. We’re talking about a serious public relations nightmare for the global pork industry.
Radio and television aside, it’s all over the Internet. From the likes of Twitter, to Facebook, heck, I’m blogging about it and it is the same story the globe over.
Pandemonium, much?

Why yes, yes indeed.

Considering the fact that over 500,000 people are directly affected by pork-production, it’s no wonder that in a downward-sloping economy, any news leaning in any direction other than “Eat pork,” is bad news.
So what are they do to?
It’s an easier asked question than answered, mostly due to the fact that Swine Flu, comes from well…pigs.
It’s a strange sort of inter-species (between humans and pigs ) transmission of influenza C virus.
And it sounds like something out of Star Trek.
I’m just waiting for Jean-Luc Picard to tell Beverly Crusher to send out a laser beam that will vaccinate us all.
Though I’m not quite sure Captain Picard could take the Starship Earth out of the this mess, much less the pork industry.

But first things first, the pork industry needs to hire a public relations crisis management team.

And as well all know, it is quite obvious they have not. This is where they are failing. Any public relations strategy is better than no strategy at all right now and that’s just the material point.
If the pork industry wants to bounce back from this in the long-term, they need to start proactively shaping themselves from now.
It’s not too hard to come up with a strategy, just thinking about it.

  • “Eat Pork” — start a campaign. Eat Grade A meat, swine flu-free, and safe.

Quite simple really. Get some doctors and meat experts on board, talk to the folks at the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) and just like eggs, milk and other products, really publicize the stamp of approval. If a patron sees the stamp, they are more likely to purchase the product. And we’re not just talking about “saying” and not “doing.” The industry needs to work together with the USDA and come up with a solution. If  a similar method is already in place, tweak it and hit the ground running at supermarkets and other food outlets across the nation.  I’m quite sure the world will follow.

  • It worked for Obama, it can work for the pork industry too. GRASSROOTS campaigns.

They are everywhere, and they thrive in middle America versus urban America. Enough said.

  • While publicizing “Eat Pork” at normal food outlets, it doesn’t hurt to create a couple public service announcements (PSA) and throw information out there to the same television, radio, and Internet outlets that are talking about Swine flu anyway.

It’s call proactive damage control.  I’m sure aside from partnering with the USDA, the pork industry should look up some of the “big wigs” at the AD Council and Public Relations Society of America. Someone, somewhere, in there can help.

  • A website isn’t a bad idea either.

While there are a lot of websites out there (this one included) telling you about all sorts of things related to the virus, what there certainly is not is a single source for up-to-the-minute, safe, reliable information. While, I like to think I’m reporting the best information to you. It’s not a secret that I’m not a doctor or a food expert. I’m sure if the pork industry were to put up a website and entwine some top-notch professionals on it, answering questions and trying to diffuse the ticking bacon bomb of death, the situation will begin to sort itself out.

  • Most of all, the pork industry needs to tell people that the virus IS NOT transmitted by food.

Or so was reported by the World Organization for Animal Health on April 29, 2009. If I were the pork industry, I’d take that press release and run with it like it were my own two legs.


Photo by John Bullas. All Rights Reserved 2009.

Take what you can get and don’t look back. It’s a war the pork industry is fighting, a war for the right to eat bacon!
… and I’m being entirely serious too.
But right now the most important thing for the pork industry to do, is hire a public relations team and work on some action.
In the long-run it will pay off. It is important to be aggressive and proactive when managing a crisis.

I mean I don’t eat pork, or any meat at all really, nor do I personally approve of factory-farming, but it is a recognizable fact that Swine Flu is bad publicity for the pork industry etc., and the people whose lives are directly affected by it. Furthermore, unemployment in the United States is nearing eight-percent; that is a big deal.



Sasha Muradali runs the Little Pink Book.

Copyright © 2009 SashaHalima PR. All rights reserved.