COMMENT: The Big Pitch - How would you advise Procter & Gamble andUnilever to handle the current crisis?


Director of communications

Information Technology Development Lab

Northwestern University, Evanston, IL

Procter & Gamble is taking a page right out of the crisis communications

handbook. By publicly admitting to what they did to Unilever, they've

squelched a number of news cycles that would have meant continuing

coverage of rumors or charges from Unilever. But while they didn't do

anything illegal, any PR program P&G might try to institute now will be

seen as just that - a PR tactic. They could publicly institute or

reinforce a policy on ethics. While P&G says they're not going to use

any of the information the spying gathered from Unilever, if key

executives have read it, it's going to be in their stream of

consciousness whether they decide to act on it or not. That's an issue

P&G may have to deal with for some time, and a reason why Unilever is

asking that key P&G execs be transferred.


Joe Marconi Marketing Communications

Western Springs, IL

The fact that the company went public, confessed their errors and began

taking steps to correct what happened is to P&G's credit. My PR

recommendations for P&G would be to first put the matter in the larger

context,noting that P&G is a company with a very long history of

integrity. I'm also a big advocate of having more than a press

conference. P&G should have updates on perhaps a quarterly basis where

the CEO will sit around the table with reporters and say everything's on

the record. I think this promotes an excellent understanding between the

media and companies. Don't make the first thing people hear about you be

the bad news. Be up-front and have an open communications policy with

the media that covers your industry.


Fineman Associates Public Relations

San Francisco

On the PR side, it seems like Procter &Gamble has done what it needed to

do. If there's a lesson to be learned, it's that P&G has contained the

situation with its actions and apologies. And by volunteering the

information to Unilever, I think the company has done everything it

could do on the PR side. On the other hand, if I'm Unilever, I'm

incensed. If Unilever keeps pressing this, would it lead to a

diminishing of their brand or reputation? Not necessarily, because there

may be a lot we don't know about this whole situation. There's an awful

lot here beyond the kin of a PR person. We're talking about some

business issues here that we may not hear about for some time. P&G has

done what it can with PR, but it still may face ongoing business issues

that have yet to come to light.


SVP, managing director

Karwoski & Courage, Minneapolis

If Unilever keeps pressing and asking for more and more, it may look

like the heavy here, perhaps even more so than the P&G employees who

were the dumpster divers. I think Unilever should be reasonable, come to

the table and reach some sort of settlement. It seems that Unilever is

asking for a lot. I don't think there's any way to validate some of the

things they're asking for. Will P&G ever use any of this information?

How can you possibly predict that? If everything that has been reported

is accurate, P&G has taken the high ground and done the right thing by

uncovering something in violation of company policy and terminating what

was termed a rogue operation. I don't think consumers are going to care

about all this when it comes to buying P&G products.

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