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How dumplings became garbage The Korea Food and Drug Administration’s handling of a food scare January 14, 2005 Submitted to the Arthur W. Page Society.

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Presentation on theme: "How dumplings became garbage The Korea Food and Drug Administration’s handling of a food scare January 14, 2005 Submitted to the Arthur W. Page Society."— Presentation transcript:

1 How dumplings became garbage The Korea Food and Drug Administration’s handling of a food scare January 14, 2005 Submitted to the Arthur W. Page Society Case Study Competition

2 Introduction In early June 2004, the police reported that some food firms supplied dumpling filling made of trashed pickled radish remnants. In early June 2004, the police reported that some food firms supplied dumpling filling made of trashed pickled radish remnants. The issue was picked up by the media as a “garbage dumpling” scandal. The issue was picked up by the media as a “garbage dumpling” scandal. The Korea Food and Drug Administration (KFDA), a governmental agency responsible for food and drug safety, was involved in the case. The Korea Food and Drug Administration (KFDA), a governmental agency responsible for food and drug safety, was involved in the case. KFDA lost the public trust as it continually mishandled related communications. KFDA lost the public trust as it continually mishandled related communications.

3 What are garbage dumplings? RadishPicklingTrimming pickled radish in a standard size Remnant Final Pickled Radish product Dumpling Filling Garbage Dumplings? Dumpling Filling Dumplings If not used for dumpling filling, trashed

4 What went wrong? KFDA’s Communication Perspective KFDA’s Communication Perspective Disclosing information Disclosing information Should have released confirmed information only. Should have released confirmed information only. Use of passive communication techniques encouraged the media to turn to less knowledgeable sources, resulting in wide circulation of inaccurate information. Use of passive communication techniques encouraged the media to turn to less knowledgeable sources, resulting in wide circulation of inaccurate information.

5 What went wrong? KFDA’s Communication Perspective KFDA’s Communication Perspective Did not show contrition for mistakes or take full responsibility for its inappropriate actions Did not show contrition for mistakes or take full responsibility for its inappropriate actions Stonewalling, whitewashing, blame shifting Stonewalling, whitewashing, blame shifting Inconsistent communications Inconsistent communications Failed to disclose critical information Failed to disclose critical information

6 Why did it go wrong? Management perspectives Management perspectives Ignored signals of an impending crisis Ignored signals of an impending crisis Ignored reports from regional offices Ignored reports from regional offices Ignored police request for cooperation Ignored police request for cooperation Relied on information provided by the police and media, rather than its own judgment and investigation Relied on information provided by the police and media, rather than its own judgment and investigation

7 Why did it go wrong? Communication Perspectives Communication Perspectives Communication breakdown with other governmental agencies Communication breakdown with other governmental agencies Internal communication breakdown Internal communication breakdown The position of KFDA on the issue had not been shared among the staffs The position of KFDA on the issue had not been shared among the staffs Critical information was not available readily or communicated effectively Critical information was not available readily or communicated effectively

8 Why did it go wrong? Public relations public information model rather than two-way symmetrical communication Public relations public information model rather than two-way symmetrical communication Organizational factors Organizational factors Layers of approvals: hurdle for swift action Layers of approvals: hurdle for swift action Lack of dominant coalition Lack of dominant coalition Too few PIO employees Too few PIO employees Job rotation system does not value the need for specialization in communication Job rotation system does not value the need for specialization in communication

9 Why did it go wrong? Lack of understanding of media practices Lack of understanding of media practices The need for public relations professionals to understand journalistic practices The need for public relations professionals to understand journalistic practices Use of sensational words Use of sensational words Media should be treated as a public: If you do not provide information, you have no control over what will be reported Media should be treated as a public: If you do not provide information, you have no control over what will be reported Blaming media does not work toward building relationships Blaming media does not work toward building relationships

10 Ripple Effects Media KFDA Police Dumpling Industry Decrease in sales Unemployment Went into default Lost consumers trust Frozen Food Industry National Economy International Relations National Image Impair Issue Amplification Commun- ication Excellence Lost of Public Trust

11 Lessons learned Empowerment of public relations affect communication excellence Empowerment of public relations affect communication excellence Be a responsible and dependable information source. Be a responsible and dependable information source. Learn about the media and understand journalistic practices Learn about the media and understand journalistic practices In the public sector, building efficient communication with other organizations is critical In the public sector, building efficient communication with other organizations is critical Be responsible with actions and communication Be responsible with actions and communication Trust is the most valuable asset in the entire public relation process Trust is the most valuable asset in the entire public relation process


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