Amy Philpott specializes in crisis communications and reputation management for food and agriculture companies. She helps companies use strategic communications to protect their brands, reputations and business relationships during product recalls and foodborne illness outbreaks. She has also assisted food companies communicate about volatile issues such as food safety, worker accidents, labor concerns, biotechnology and more.
Amy co-developed the joint U.S. Food & Drug Administration and University of Maryland JIFSAN Annual Symposium: Communicating Food Risk in an Era of Social Media. She is also a co-contributor to the International Food Information Council’s (IFIC) Food Safety: A Communicator’s Guide to Improving Understanding, and she served on a joint United Nations FAO and World Health Organization working group that developed a global risk communication guide for food safety.
Education: Amy holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from California State University, Fresno, and a Master of Arts in public communication from American University in Washington, DC. She is a member of the Public Relations Society of America and fully accredited in public relations (APR).
There is a saying among those of us who regularly “work” recalls: “If an organization has one recall, it’s had one recall.” That is, while 99 percent of a recall may be predictable, there is always that one percent that is unique to each situation. The same is true for most crises. However, there are tried and true crisis management principles that, if followed, will help an organization protect its brand, reputation and relationships during any crisis.
First, a successful crisis management strategy must incorporate empathy and caring. That isn’t to say that other factors, such as legal and financial considerations, aren’t important, but If an organization puts people first, it will be on the road to gaining trust, the second, and arguably the most essential, crisis management principle. Brands, reputations and relationships are all built on trust between an organization and its stakeholders. Any crisis is an opportunity to build upon or establish trust with those who are most important to the organization and its future. However, the opposite is also true. If an organization mismanages a crisis, it will lose all or some of the trust it has worked so hard to earn. Warren Buffet famously said, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and 5 minutes to ruin it.” Finally, an organization in crisis must back its words up with actions and then communicate about those actions. An organization can do everything right during a crisis, but if it doesn’t communicate about it, it won’t be recognized for its efforts.
In any crisis, put people first, garner trust and let stakeholders know what you are doing.
Too often, recall management has a low priority within a company. It’s put in its own box, locked away, only to be applied, or even discussed, when a product must be pulled off the market. We want to change that.
The Expert Solutions Spotlight is our way of sharing perspectives from our strategic partners – lawyers, insurers and risk managers and crisis communications experts across industries – on product safety issues that have potential to influence a company’s view on recalls and crisis management. In some cases, the connection is obvious but the perspective is new. In others, we will raise questions that you may have never considered in the context of recall management. That’s our intent.
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