7 Steps for an Effective Product Recall Communication Strategy

No brand wants to have to deal with a product recall, but when safety is at stake, it’s sometimes the only option. How can your brand best communicate a product recall notice in a way that protects both your customers and your reputation? An effective communications strategy that leverages multiple print channels can help you reach your audience and retain trust.

Allied has a long history of supporting a diverse array of brands, including automotive companies and manufacturers. Here are our recommendations for handling a recall.

Identify the Target Audience

 When there’s a product recall, it’s especially important to ensure that the necessary information gets to all potentially affected individuals. Utilize your customer database – including direct sales records, warranty registrations, and/or loyalty program data – to identify customers who purchased the affected product(s). If customers can buy the product from third-party retailers, not just from your company directly, coordinate with those retailers to identify affected customers from their databases too.

As of 2022, the US Census Bureau reported that 8.7% of the American population – or over 28 million people – moves annually. That means some of your addresses may not be up to date, and it may be harder to reach these customers! To maximize your communications budget, Allied runs your lists through the National Change of Address (NCOA) database to update addresses, as well as provide more advanced options for list hygiene and accuracy.

Write the Recall Content

 A product recall notice needs to include several key pieces of information:
Clear, detailed identification of the recalled product, including names, descriptions, SKU numbers, batch or lot numbers, and any other identifying features.

  • A clear explanation of the reason for the recall, with information about the consumer safety risk and the potential consequences.
  • Specific instructions for what consumers should do if they have an affected product, including steps for returns, exchanges, and/or repairs.
  • Contact information for a hotline, email address, website, or other places where customers can get more information about the recall.
  • A statement of reassurance that your company is taking all necessary steps to address the situation and ensure consumer safety.


Design the Recall Notice

 The visual design of the notice is nearly as important as the content itself. Ensure the notice stands out, using large, simple, bold fonts and colors that attract attention. Emphasize readability with clear headings, bullet points, and concise language, and avoid extraneous design elements that make the notice too “busy.” Finally, look for ways to incorporate your company’s branding (to give the feeling of authority and authenticity) while still maintaining a serious tone – perhaps a simple use of the logo and brand colors.

Choose Which Print Channels to Use

 For maximum reach, your product recall notice will most likely need to be conveyed using multiple print channels, alongside online notices. Options include:

  • Direct mail to send personalized recall notices to customers’ mailboxes. You may also choose to add personalized QR codes (PQR codes) to direct mail pieces, allowing customers to scan for more information and providing your company with more data on who is responding.
  • Notices placed prominently in stores that sold the affected products
  • Notices published in newspapers and/or magazines, particularly local publications and those relevant to your target audience
  • Packaging inserts attached to other, unaffected products that are still being sold


Ensure Legal and Regulatory Compliance

Before releasing your recall notice to the public, make sure to dot your i’s and cross your t’s, legally speaking. Review any relevant guidelines from consumer safety commissions or regulatory bodies, and ensure your notice meets all requirements for content, language, and distribution. Then, have your legal team review the notice to ensure it accurately and thoroughly conveys the necessary information without exposing your company to any additional liability.

Coordinate Print Distribution

 Time the distribution of your print notices, in whichever format(s) you choose, to coincide with your broader recall announcement. Be sure to cover a wide area, considering geographic locations and demographics, to reach as many affected consumers as possible. This coordinated, widespread approach makes it more likely that a high percentage of potentially affected customers will see your message in at least one format.

To increase deliverability and reduce costs, Allied will work with you on a postal logistics plan to ensure mail arrives in a timely manner and with the lowest possible postage cost to you. We also offer mail tracking options, so you know when the mail is out for delivery and can better keep track of your outreach.

Provide Follow-Up Support

 Once the product recall is out in the world, be prepared to handle responses and provide support to consumers who contact you after receiving the notice. This might involve setting up a dedicated team to handle recall-related queries. You’ll also want to monitor the effectiveness of your print communications, and have a plan in place to adjust or follow up if the data reveals that certain areas or demographics are not being reached.

In addition to these steps, be sure to keep detailed records of your entire communications process. This documentation should include copies of the product recall notice, distribution records, and consumer responses, all of which are important for regulatory compliance and for evaluating the effectiveness of your strategy. Incorporating tech solutions, such as PQR codes, into your print strategy can allow you to better see who accessed information and whether that led to actions such as returns or repairs.

Communicating a product recall requires careful planning, clear and concise messaging, and a comprehensive distribution strategy to ensure that all affected consumers are informed and understand how to respond. Allied is here to help with this, or any other print and communication needs! Talk to our team today to learn more about our multi-channel solutions for getting your message out there.

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