General Mills recalls nearly 1.8 million boxes of cereal

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General Mills voluntarily recalled more than 1.8 million boxes of gluten-free Cheerios and Honey Nut Cheerios on Monday. As you could imagine, the news spread instantaneously through social media, but General Mills remained completely transparent and successfully controlled its crisis. The company issued a press release explaining the situation to consumers and media. General Mills posted a link to the press release on their corporate homepage and SVP and president of General Mills’ cereal division, Jim Murphy, posted a blog minutes after the release was published.

“As president of General Mills’ cereal business, I am embarrassed and truly sorry to announce today that we are recalling boxes of Cheerios and Honey Nut Cheerios produced on several dates at our Lodi, California facility,” Murphy said.

The boxes of cereal needed to be recalled due to health measures when wheat was detected in boxes of the gluten-free cereal produced in July. Murphy also added to his post that General Mills recognizes its failure in serving the gluten-free community and it “instituted additional flour handling protocols at all facilities to ensure this will not happen again.”

General Mills is widely recognized as a family brand and many of their products are popular among children. Coincidentally, parents are often extremely protective of their children. General Mills took a major hit on this crisis but their communications response team handled it extremely well. Adding the personal feel to this crisis by having the SVP and president of General Mills include a blog in addition to the press release helped tremendously. They simply admitted fault and seemed genuinely sorry for the mistake they made. Taking that extra step past the traditional news release made Cheerios look transparent, regretful for their mistake, and caring for their consumers.

Brilliantly, Cheerios also tweeted a link to Murphy’s blog, along with a post showing specific recall instructions. As of Friday, the tweet was still pinned to the top of the page. They even retweeted both posts from their own handle:

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The post was shared more than 4,200 times, received hundreds of comments, and many from concerned parents. Not only did Cheerios respond to each comment, it personalized the replies rather than copying and pasting a generic apology statement. Cheerios has an excellent communications response team. They calmed down the situation, added compassion, used a higher up to issue an apology directly, and stayed in touch with their audience while remaining completely transparent. Target should take some notes from General Mills on how to deal with a crisis situation the right way.

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