How the communication of disastrous Emmanuel Besnier penalizes Lactalis

This is a textbook case. The CEO of Lactalis is known for its great discretion and care procedures that he can devote to the protect -it has sought and obtained interim censorship of a news report from France 2 in 2016, which paralleled his personal situation and that of the farmers in the context of the crisis in the milk, before being dismissed of all its claims on appeal. But can he still hide in his office, to flee the media and consumer associations, while his company is accused of poisoning infants?

The answer seems obvious to the questioner. Fortunately for capitalism, almost all of the big bosses face, assume responsibility for any errors, and less serious, which are violations in the businesses they run. On this point, it is interesting to remember the attitude opposite of a great habitué of the crisis communication, Guillaume Pepy, president of SNCF. The video below shows how he had reacted to, and communicated a few hours after the disaster Bretigny-sur-Orge in July 2013 which, again, had 7 dead and dozens injured. Facing the cameras, on the scene of the accident, with an orange vest to show that he was on the bridge with his teams, he had at the time given the information available to it and expressed his emotion unfeigned.

On a crisis a lot less tragic, the boss of the Sncf has used the same method in August 2017, on the occasion of the failure of a giant who had locked-55.000 travelers to the gare Montparnasse. First, he had “expressed her sincere regret”, and then without filter, or censor, the information available to it at the time of its intervention. As usual, public opinion, the media and the public authorities were outraged, but the voice strong and sincere to the head of the company had halted the escalation in the crisis and protected the Sncf.

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Explain, expose himself to protect his business

Of course, the crisis to which Lactalis is facing today is totally different. But these examples of a company facing many crisis in repetition and how it reacts to its president by exposing, explaining and demonstrating empathy, show that this attitude is the only benefit to the company. Obviously, she directs the CEO to exercise a large cold-blooded in the turbulent times, to be able to find the words and dare to expose themselves personally.

Lactalis is also facing a succession of crises: between the storms (sometimes riots of dairy farmers) and health alerts (in addition to the current contamination with salmonella, 5.000 packs of yoghurts withdrawn from sale after the discovery of broken glass in October last year), the company mayenne, which is also according to estimates, the number one or number two dairy products in France, is not spared.

Unfortunately for Lactalis, despite the efforts of his friendly director of communications, the boss is conspicuously absent. It has nothing to say at the moment its suppliers breeders accuse him of holding in conditions of “serfdom” because of the low price that he imposes. He did not wish to speak no more when the association Food Watch says:”Milk Lactalis, the scandal too, which should have been avoided”, involving the efforts of traceability, procedures, warning and recalls the precedent of this factory of Craon (Mayenne), which had already been pinned up in 2005 for a contamination similar to over twenty other sick infants.

Stay Mr. All-the-World

Emmanuel Besnier refuses all interviews, but he was forced to look into the eyes of a journalist of Challenges in 2011, because he had recognized in the TGV between Laval and Paris, had taken advantage of the temporary absence of his close collaborators, and was then politely asked about his refusal to publicly expose. Attitude rare in a leader, and already a source of questioning legitimate at the time it came to buy the Italian group Parmalat, side Exchange. His response: “I’ve always preferred to put forward the business rather than my person even if I am well aware of embody that group. I find it hard to support the recent articles in the press focusing on me, and then I want to be able to take the train as Mr. All-the-World…” Consistent, it does not list his name only once on the corporate site of the Lactalis group, to report that in the first decade of 2000, following the sudden death of his father, Michel, “Emmanuel Besnier takes over the reins..”. No CV, no photo, no statement… even in the literature house, the boss is singularly discreet.

Ranked 11th in fortune French professional by Categories (€8 billion) with his brother and sister who hold with him 100% of this group of more than 17 billion euros of turnover, Emmanuel Besnier, 46, grandson of the founder, wants to be left alone to live the life of Mr. All-the-World. He noticed in the last few months, the enormous success in France of a brand opportunely called “who’s the boss” which is characterized by a transparency of its practices and the fair remuneration of producers. Has which this brand is trying to steal market share, if not the leader, Lactel (Lactalis)? It depends on the recent acquisition of the u.s. Stonyfield (acquired Danone 875 million), and known to observe an ethics that is less questionable in its production and its communication to regild his blazon? Unless you belong to Lactalis does not penalize also this nugget…

He also noticed that his company is the target of a boycott campaign in line signed by nearly 11,000 people? With respect to the group action in justice that are bring the families of babies being made ill by salmonella present in infant formula, it may well get him to explain, but in front of a court, where each person who likes and uses on a daily basis of the products of Lactalis (President, Heart of a Lion, Lactel, Bridel, Lou Pérac, Chaussée aux Moines, Galbani, desserts dairy: Nestlé, La Laitière, Sveltesse…) will be sad to see this boss has chosen to take inspiration from Jacques Servier, rather than of Antoine Riboud.

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