Strategy against Coomb’s theoryAny company faced with a crisis requires a crisis management plan (CMP), which is a tool used to kick start the management process. The CMP includes all key contact information, components of all actions that need to be taken as well as forms for the documentation of the crisis response. This plan acts as a reference source and it saves time through ensuring that tasks of the management process are pre-assigned while vital information is pre-collected. For effective crisis management, the crisis team in the organization should know their specific tasks and responsibilities (Barton 2001). Coomb’s situational theory has three main elements which include the crisis situation, response strategies and a system that matches the crisis situation with the response strategies (Wright 2009).
During a crisis, a company has to deal with various challenges that include protecting and rebuilding its reputation (Coombs, 2004). There are clear guidelines that should be used in crisis management, which include being quick, accurate and consistent. After all, organizational behavior plays a key role in determining its reputation in the eyes of the stakeholders and thus, a company’s words and actions must match even during a crisis situation (Herbig, Milewicz, & Golden 1994). Taco Bell was quick to respond to its crisis, but it broke vital rules in crisis management because according to Coombs (2006), the SCCT stipulates that to protect a reputation, the acceptance of responsibility by the organization in response to the crisis ought to be consistent with stakeholders’ acknowledgment of responsibility as generated by the crisis.
In Taco Bell’s case, the company disregarded the views of stakeholders and especially its customers who needed reassurance that indeed its meat fillings are entirely beef.
Instead, the company decided to publicize the allegations made against it using full page newspaper ads that read, “Thanks for suing us”. The second rule that Taco Bell broke in the protocol of crisis management was that a company faced by a crisis should promote the opposite of what it is accused of without mentioning the allegations. Thirdly, the company should provide incredible third party proof to support their stand put forth in the second rule. Taco Bell seems to have ignored looming reputation threats that it faced, following the lawsuit filed in relation to the beef issue.
Reputation is very important to any company, and it represents the collective evaluation by stakeholders in relation to how well the company meets their expectations (Wartrick 1992). Although the company came forward quickly, the message it communicated implied that it did not care much about meeting the expectations of shareholders to know the truth, as much as it cared about throwing counter remarks towards the law firm that filed the suit.
Further, Taco Bell seemed to put forth an arrogant attitude following the lawsuit, since its messages left no room for error. The CEO said boldly that its tacos contain 88% beef and 12% spices and other ingredients (Public Relations Rogue, 2011). Thus, were it to be found that these was wrong, the company would have found itself in a pit too deep to come out of anytime in the near future.