Product recalls are never good news, but they are a fact of life for manufacturing and retail companies. They can even be opportunities for companies to show that they care about the people who buy their products, and to create a different kind of emotional connection, one that goes beyond excitement over the latest car, stroller or pair of flip-flops.
Macy's perhaps does not see it that way.
On Aug. 18 the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission announced a voluntary recall of the Martha Stewart Collection Enamel Cast Iron Casseroles, which are imported and sold by Macy's. According to the CPSC's press release, the enamel coating on the cast iron casseroles can crack during use and fly off as projectiles. Two incidents of the enamel flying off have been reported, although there have been no injuries.
The recall of 960,000 casseroles has been reported by the Wall Street Journal and Consumer Reports, but Macy's had not posted its own press release in its online press room as of 6 p.m. on Aug. 18. On the Macy's home page, there is a tiny link in the bottom right-hand corner called "Recalls," which takes you to a page that offers complete information about the recall, although this does not really qualify as consumer outreach.
Macy's Facebook wall had no mention of the recall, and the company had not sent out any tweets about it.
Granted, there have been no injuries, and it's not exactly the same thing as a car that accelerates of its own accord. But the story of the recall is rippling out anyway, and Macy's is missing from the story. A simple tweet and a Facebook post letting its fans and followers know about the recall, along with its own press statement, would have demonstrated forcibly that Macy's—like any company—is, in the end, an assemblage of people, that there is more to life than buying and selling and brand building. And that's good public relations.