A crisis itself doesn’t always do the most damage— the handling of it often does.

Drug-maker Sanofi recently recalled its Auvi-Q epinephrine injections. In announcing its recall, the drug-maker effectively used its' website  as the destination for people to learn about the recall and what to do with the product.

It also had a video by the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) talking about the recall, putting a corporate contact at the center of the crisis and one who, as a father, we can relate to as to how the company is taking this matter seriously. In this case, the CMO rather than the CEO was appropriate as the CMO most likely had the most knowledge about this issue and the issue has not yet risen to an emergency situation.

They are handling this issue proactively. They saw an issue and are working diligently at avoiding having the issue become a wicked problem.

Because they work in a heavily regulated industry, they made it clear that they are "working with the FDA to ensure appropriate surveillance and to correct the issue."

At the same time, given their work in Washington, they also proactively reached out to congressional offices about the recall and are being responsive to government inquiries.

According to Politico and the Center for Responsive Politics, Sanofi spent $1.17 million on lobbying last quarter and have made substantial political contributions to members of Congress.

In responding to a crisis, companies should remember this Four-Step Process::

  • Readiness - Be prepared by being proactive and know the risks.
  • Response - Be ready to respond immediately.
  • Reassurance- Reassure the public that their needs are being adequately addressed by communicating all of the pertinent details.
  • Recovery - Ongoing communication regarding company-wide changes is an important part of demonstrating your organization’s responsiveness and continued commitment to making things right.

In dealing with crises you do not always need a plan, but you do need a blueprint with the stakeholders to reach out to and the tools and resources available for reaching them.

A well-handled crisis can be an opportunity for a brand to demonstrate its competence and enhance its image.  In this case, Sanofi saw a problem and worked proactively to address it and make sure their stakeholders were fully aware and fully engaged in the dealing with the situation.

As a result, their consumers and investors will understand that problems will emerge and mistakes may happen.  However, in this situation the company was pro-active, empathetic and solution-driven.  As a result, Sanofi will emerge a stronger company and their consumer will remain loyal.