Just finished reading an interesting article about the controversy surrounding pink slime. Click here.

Once the term was used, perhaps quite innocently, the word entered the mainstream and went viral on social media. Today, there is a lawsuit from Beef Products Inc. against ABC News when Diana Sawyer, the news correspondent, first coined the term in a news story. The outcome could have a broad effect on social media tactics in use today. What do you think is a company’s best response to this type of social media attack?

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11 thoughts on “Social Media and Pink Slime

  1. It’s hard to say if ABC should actually be held accountable for the company’s loss of revenue. Yes, harsh observations gone viral can have an enormous affect on the way a company is viewed, but isn’t it our right as consumers to develop and share criticism? Perhaps the company should have foreseen this possible perception of their manufacturing processes. They could have possibly presented themselves in a different way by preparing appropriate public relations communications. They certainly can’t hope to rebuild their reputation and bottom line by suing ABC for a generally accurate observation…

  2. It amazes me how fast certain things can go viral. “Pink Slime,” Antoine’s “Bed Intruder Song,” and Pepsi’s “Test Drive” can go viral if the right people forward them along and the news media has nothing better to report than a shockingly funny and sometimes offensive YouTube clip. Also, it should be seriously considered how much brand reputation a good or a bad clip, catch phrase, or crisis can cause a company. It sounds like BPI was just minding its own business and had no idea that someone who is averse to the meat industry might use their right to free speech and call them a dirty name. It’s unfortunate for BPI, but it’s a cautionary tale because this can happen to any large or small corporation.
    If I was consulting BPI, I would recommend they make a comeback where they use “Pink Slime” and play off the negativity. Especially in this circumstance (since the tag line is comical and not entirely gross since I think of a pink Slurpee when I see that picture) I think BPI can turn this around and make fun of the report by comparing a pink Slurpee slush and a burger, or pink goo to a cooked steak. That’s what I just came up with at the top of my head, I bet there are various other videos that could work. What do you guys think? Will a comical reply be a better comeback than a defensive one? I mean IF BPI is to win their lawsuit they can get back their lost sales, but their reputation will not be reinstated in the public’s eye and thus it will only be a very short fix to a potentially long term problem.

  3. I think it’s interesting that the company is prepared to sue for libel, and find myself wondering if the future will not see some sort of legislation giving firms a modicum of protection or rights to sue, in instances such as these. The advent of the internet has brought on a slew of policies for security, and I would not be surprised if some legislation eventually came from this or a similar lawsuit.

    It’s unfortunate that BPI has lost reputation and sales. However, at the same time, you have to understand as a company that if you are making a product that is highly offensive to certain individuals, you run the risk of someone calling you out and it going viral.

  4. So,
    I would have to say that this is a fun article to respond to because you do such a good job of misleading us to make us think it’s about one thing when it’s really about another!

    This article I feel is directly commenting on the fact that instead of the news reporter costing those 130 million in revenues, the company itself cost itself 130 million in revenues!

    The reason for this is because the company didn’t have integrated market tactics! they didn’t realize that instead of just sitting back and thinking, “I just really wish these guys would stop this, this is really hurting my feelings” they should have been going out and making videos implying that they do the ethical things to protect their cute little cattle that they raise and butcher. That way the public at least assumes that they are doing the right thing, even though I and you both know that that is not even close to reality. *in some or most cases

    This is when it takes someone to stand up and say, “Hey! Listen to me dummy, I want to save you 130 million dollars in revenues over the next XXX years, this is how i am going to do it.” Some companies will rise, and collapse because of a simple misstep they take. I am beginning to realize the necessity of public relations

    Get the paperwork right, and get the forecasting right. Get the PR right, and get the accounting and finance right. Get the supply and logistics, and consumer behavior down. Get the Engineering down, and get the marketing down. Get management in place that can handle this project, and take ownership and responsibility in the fact that you are a government agency, and you need to operate at a higher standard than you are holding yourself to. This is unacceptable.

  5. Social media is one of the most rapidly evolving ways to transmit a message. Users are consistently sharing information, pictures, new, updates, etc. These days the only way to find information is on the internet. In addition, the use of mobile smart phones has changed the way businesses and consumers access information. Mobile smart phones have allowed users to send and receive information quicker than ever before. According to this article a loss of $130 million dollars was incurred due to the “pink slime” controversy. Considering people were not aware that pink slime was being used to make the food they eat on a daily basis, this affected the company negatively. This situation is unfortunate specifically for BPI, but negative talk is transmitted quickly about many other companies. Companies such as the Carnival, Lexus, BMW were all placed in the news and have gone viral due to problems they were facing or complaints that were made against them. The lexus incident caused the death of a woman due to technical difficulties caused by the manufacturer.

    BPI needs to come back with a comeback that will allow the consumers to feel more at ease with the situation. They should take an approach that will allow them to defend themselves, explain to the public what has happened and give a reason as to why. Express to the public that it isn’t as bad as it sounds. Possibly make a comical comeback, its important to keep their consumers as well as to increase their revenues specifically because they incurred such a large loss. WIth a decrease in revenue of such a large amount they are looking a rocky future. They are looking at a future full of problems and customer complaints. When there is an issue, it is important to try to fix them to calm the consumers down as well as to explain to them what they can and cannot do to fix the outcome.

  6. When a media attack is taking place against a company I think the best thing a company can do is to acknowledge any true statements and vow to change. So many people and organizations only want to point the finger at someone else and blame. I think by taking responsibility it really changes the way a company is perceived and it plants the seed of trust with their consumers.

  7. The beef company should be forthright and explain the processes involved in the process. If this process involves correcting some misconceptions then this would be the time to do so.

  8. I think ABC should have the right to openly talk about the beef product especially if the term has gone viral. Pink slime seems to be a big unhealthy issue and if it’s getting out into the public, may consumers will think twice before they choose such an unhealthy food choice.

  9. It’s truly amazing how fast news can spread when it goes viral. I think ABC has every right to discuss a news story and communicate their findigs. Pink slime is disgusting and seems to be extremely unhealthy so it’s rather funny that there’s a lawsuit against ABC.

  10. I agree with Merissa, where it was pointed out that if you make such a product that is negatively perceived, you have to expect that you will face negative responses against your company. Its the same issue with Perdue’s chickens being pumped with antibiotics and shoved in tiny cages, stuck bathing in their own feces, and not expecting anyone to make a big deal about it. Given this, they should also then be prepared to face the consequences. Their strategy to do so should not sound defensive but indicate the facts and ways that may put a more positive light on the situation. Perhaps they’re eliminating wasted by using animal parts that are otherwise discarded.

  11. being that Beef Products inc. is a huge player in the U.S. and global meat market, I feel like by going up against the journalistic integrity of Diane Sawyer, they’re biting off more than they can chew (Hahaha get it?). But on a more serious note, the meat manufacturing industry has been under scrutiny for decades, what with the increased popularity of vegetarianism, the articles linking greenhouse gases to the abundance of cattle being bred for consumption and lets not forget PETA and their efforts to create transparency in the meat manufacturing corporation’s practices. They’ve had a bad rap and will not fix their reputation by continuing this lawsuit (which is still being fought today). So what could Beef Products Inc. do from a public relations point of view? campaign! campaign! campaign! instead of putting the blame on Diane Sawyer and ABC news, they should focus their efforts on transparency with their manufacturing practices to rebuild their reputation.

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