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Mad Cow Case Study : Crisis Communicaitons

I had posted on the Mad Cow Rapid Response before. (Steroids, Cows, Iowa and Network Advocacy Lessons from the Cattlemen )

It is no surprise to see the PR industry is recognizing the whipping the cattle industry put on the environmental movement with the masterful response to the outbreak. Apparently, folks are wondering if the spin actually ended up burying important health issues?

However, the media has turned attention elsewhere .....opportunity for quick and meaningful the reform (superfund, clean water act, etc) that could have been pushed through in the wake of the outbreak is now lost until the next exposure in the US.

Hopefully, we can avoid contaminating the food supply with MDE and steady policy making can push through important reforms. However given that the upcoming meeting of the Public Relations Society of America, "the Washington Beef Commission will unveil how it turned the PR nightmare discovery of Mad Cow... into an opportunity to educate the public about the hype surrounding the disease." We had better start organizing the next rapid response two the second appearance of Mad Cow in our food supply.

Spin of the Day
According to, the Japanese government isn't buying the U.S. Agriculture Department's new mad cow testing program -- or U.S. beef. Much to Secretary Ann Veneman's chagrin, Japanese officials rejected her proposal for an international panel to review both countries' mad cow policies. And in New Jersey, a suspicious cluster of human deaths from mad cow-like diseases, brought to light by one concerned citizen, is raising serious questions about the cost of dismissing the threat posed by mad cow disease and related transmissible spongiform encephalopathies. Source: O'Dwyer's PR Daily, April 2, 2004

Are we ready to counter the second round of spin? Have we decompressed and learned anything from this experience? How are environmental / health groups better prepared to push for meaningful reform in the wake of the next food problem? The PR industry is sharing the "success story" and teaching another round of PR staff about how to "manage" spin. Are we doing the same thing?