Recall Communication & Media Reaction

Their product is defective, but they do care for you! How different media spin the story of corporate product recalls

Raoul V. Kübler, Koen Pauwels, and Sönke Albers


Product recalls are extensively covered by independent media, which serves as a mediator between the public and the recalling company. Different media outlets often cover the same recall with different focus and sentiment towards the recaller. Thus, companies need to know how they should design their initial recall communication to minimize the risk of possible negative press coverage. Using an innovative content analysis method to measure emotionality in texts the authors analyze more than 1.400 media clippings from different media types from a total of 26 different European product recalls. With the help of a latent class regression model the authors identify different patterns of media reactions depending on the media type. Whereas regional media appears to react more positively to concrete information such as higher degrees of expressed transparency or identification help national media appears to reward more abstract information such as higher degrees of stated social responsibility. In addition the authors show that in contrast to consumers press editors appreciate corporate apologies in case of a product recall and reward them with a more positive press coverage.

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