Horsemeat in Australian food: How do you handle the PR fallout?

CommsCon_social media_HorizontalA live crisis simulation will take place at next weeks CommsCon event, with an expert panel taking to the stage to respond in real time as damaging revelations emerge about a hypothetical FMCG client who has been found to have horse meat in its products.

The session will feature a live command centre displaying the issue as it unfolds across the digital and social media ecosystem.

Douglas Wright, MD of Wrights PR, Brian Shrowder, director of crisis and issues management at Hill+Knowlton Strategies, and Chris Grosse, head of social media and digital marketing at Fox Sports, will play the roles of different stakeholders as they respond to the crisis, including a government spokesperson trying to spin the issue, a hostile media representative and the communications head of the affected brand.

They will develop various scenarios to respond to a hypothetical topic: what if horsemeat were found in the Australian food supply chain? The simulation has been inspired by events in the UK, where horsemeat has been found to be in a large number of beef products, leading to drastic changes in food buying habits.

Audience members will be invited to contribute to the hypothetical crisis.

CommsCon takes place in Sydney next Thursday March 14. Details of the programme – aimed at PR and communications professionals – are available via this link.


  1. Wayne
    7 Mar 13
    11:43 am

  2. If I found it in a can of cat I’d be most relieved…

  3. James
    7 Mar 13
    11:45 am

  4. Become a Naming Rights Sponsor for the Melbourne Cup.

  5. Too Easy
    7 Mar 13
    11:56 am

  6. If the people are so skilled in issues and crisis management, why give them any indication of what the crisis is? Shouldn’t you throw a crisis at them, live, and see how they respond which is the way a true crisis unfolds. Events escalate exponentially and participants are often unprepared. I am sure Shrowder and Grosse are busily preparing now so they appear to be across everything and look like amazing performers when in theory they have had weeks to develop a stakeholder matrix, structure a crisis team, develop messages etc. Sounds like spinning, spin to me.

  7. JSD
    7 Mar 13
    12:03 pm

  8. Assume you mean Thursday 14 March not February…

  9. Richard Moss
    7 Mar 13
    1:19 pm

  10. This kind of thing is rarely of any real use, it provides a kind of entertainment and allows “smarty pants” professionals to show off and/or pretend to be across all emerging problems and surprises whilst remaining calm and courageous to the journey’s end.

    This reminds me of a Monty Python sketch in which chocolates containing , inter alia, Lark’s Vomit, were inadequately labeled in so much that the manufacturer had neglected to add a large red legend “Warning Lark’s Vomit.”

    I don’t know what all the fuss is about, horse meat is consumed on the continent, it sustained many soldiers during the first world war and just after.

    Horse is clean and healthy meat as a rule, and since it qualifies as a source of protein derived from a vegetarian animal of great beauty and intellect, I wouldn’t get upset at all.

  11. Cathie
    7 Mar 13
    1:31 pm

  12. Thanks JSD; now corrected.

    Cathie – Mumbrella

  13. paul the freelance writer
    7 Mar 13
    1:55 pm

  14. It’s the intellect, Richard. Like dogs and monkeys. Humans can only stomach eating stupid animals.

    (Pigs might be the exception.)

  15. NS
    7 Mar 13
    2:33 pm

  16. er…Too Easy…i think the idea with disclosing the topic is to draw in the punter (ie you), not pre-prepare the speakers…and besides, you want their best practice dont you? so you can actually learn something?

  17. Toby
    8 Mar 13
    9:08 am

  18. “More giddy-up and go in each bite!”

  19. Consumer
    9 Mar 13
    2:09 pm

  20. What most people fail to realise is that Australia is one of the world’s largest exporters of horse meat. Horse meat was always used as a food source by Australians in war – Boer, WWI, and WWII. For me eating a burger containing horse meat is no big deal.