Purchasing & Public Relations Nightmares

PurchTips edition #37


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What Do These Three Scenarios Have In Common?

Scenario #1 – Children throughout the United States returned their Halloween candy to a candy manufacturer. They did this to protest the manufacturer's purchase of cocoa from a source that allegedly uses child labor.

Scenario #2 – Over 600 people became ill and three died after eating at a restaurant during a one-month span. All of them were diagnosed with Hepatitis A. While the investigation is ongoing, experts believe that the disease was carried by green onions used by the restaurant.

Scenario #3 – A commercial airliner crashes, killing 110 people. Investigators attributed the crash to oxygen generators that caught fire during the flight. A supplier of the airline improperly prepared these generators for shipment. The United States' courts ruled that the supplier recklessly failed to comply with hazardous materials regulations and willingly failed to properly train its employees in handling hazardous materials.

These three real-life scenarios share one theme: they are public relations nightmares that have a root cause of a questionable purchasing decision.

Now, you may not buy cocoa, or green onions, or airline maintenance services, but the decisions that you make daily could be the cause of a highly-publicized scandal that hurts your organization. The keys to avoiding a public relations nightmare are to consider all of the possible problems in advance and to take preventative measures to ensure that those problems never arise.

Ask yourself these types of questions:

  • What do I buy that could cause illness, injury, or death?
  • What do I buy that could raise the attention of special interest groups (e.g., environmental, child labor, ethnic, etc.)?
  • What do I buy that could be perceived as a conflict of interest or misuse of funds?

Then, devise a strategy to mitigate all risks of being mentioned in a future negative news headline. Good luck!!!

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