When junk science falsely alleged that granite countertops could cause cancer, a media scrum attracted by the promise of click-bait headlines spread the story nationally.

Recognizing the impact this fake controversy could have on an industry of mom-and-pop companies, the Marble Institute of America rushed to reassure the public.

We knew that fighting the fake story with real science would create a false equivalency trap and encourage reporters to resurrect the original claims. Instead, we crafted a story to reassure consumers: We showed that granite countertops enhance home values. A third-party survey found 75 percent of homeowners wanted granite countertops. Nearly 90 percent said granite was safe. 

Our story appeared in nearly 2,900 newspapers. Momentum for the false story dissipated. And granite countertop sales rebounded.

When Bayer reduced manufacturing in Elkhart, Ind., it announced plans to demolish a million square-foot industrial landmark.

Elkhart’s biggest facility had employed generations of residents. But Bayer was responding to a worldwide economic changes and had to realign manufacturing. The challenge: Bayer couldn’t afford bad community relations because it was still operating smaller, more modern facilities nearby.

We redefined the story, shifting attention from the closure to focus on Elkhart’s economic development. At our urging, Bayer offered to sell the facility for $1 to an organization that would create jobs in town.

Feed the Children got the complex and created 300 jobs – Elkhart’s biggest job creation success in decades.

Bayer unions softened their rhetoric. Local officials applauded the company’s generosity while the media celebrated its community service. And the company saved millions of dollars it would have spent to demolish the complex.

When Health Canada questioned the safety of baby bottles made with bisphenol A (BPA), retailers began removing Playtex’s hard-plastic bottles from shelves and sales plummeted.  The company, a top baby bottle producer, was worried.

Regulators worldwide had long approved the use of BPA, but media coverage focused on allegations by some anti-BPA activists who cited unconfirmed science. We reframed the story away from the safety issue to focus on the needless confusion and concern the media reports were causing among parents.

We urged Playtex to voluntarily withdraw bottles using BPA, unveil a timetable to eliminate BPA from its products and offer to replace bottles in consumers’ homes with BPA-free product.

Playtex was one of the first bottle makers to act.  Within days, consumers had requested tens of thousands of coupons for replacement bottles.

The following year, Playtex baby bottle sales exceeded expectations – in part because the company put the consumer first.