Crisis: Any situation that threatens a company’s integrity or reputation.
How your company reacts to a crisis will set the tone for the brand’s long-term reputation. Before you experience a difficult or embarrassing situation, sit down and start planning. Your business’ future could depend on your crisis management plan. Fortunately, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel – companies have created plans for every type of challenge, and you can too.
STEP 1: ASSIGN THE COMMUNICATIONS CRISIS TEAM
Your Communications Crisis Team (CCT) is made up of communications managers and staff, key experts from the business, and external consultants, such as legal counsel, who have the authority to make decisions about your business.
STEP 2: ESTABLISH THE COMMAND CENTER
Establishing a command center before a crisis hits will save critical time during the actual event. Find a conference room at your office big enough to accommodate the team and all of the work materials needed to manage crisis communications.
STEP 3: PLAN YOUR RESPONSE
What’s the most common response to shock, to disaster, to a crisis? “Oh, no!”
Are these the first words you want to hear from your spokesperson on the nightly news? Effective crisis management requires planning – time spent crafting your response before communicating it is critical. Remember that old Scout motto, Be Prepared?
STEP 4: IDENTIFY KEY AUDIENCES
Who is your audience? Customers? The news media? The local, national, or global cannabis community? Most communications plans place audiences in simplistic categories, such as priority or sphere of influence (Internal/External). If you don’t reach your audiences and help shape perceptions right away, then the media will do it for you.
STEP 5: DEFINE CRISIS COMMUNICATIONS GOALS
Goals and strategies need to be simple, clear, effective and principled. Goal-setting and strategizing before a crisis will make discussions during a crisis more focused and efficient and less contentious. When a crisis occurs, it’s far easier to decide which of your existing communications goals and strategies you want to put into action than to create them from scratch.
Think through and prepare for every possible scenario. Get ahead of the story. When crises and crisis communications are managed with sensitivity, respect, and consideration for the people affected, you can manage any situation that threatens a company’s integrity or reputation.
For more information, check out our article “Crisis Management 101: Be Prepared!”.
And for a really comprehensive look at the topic, we recommend NCIA’s Crisis Communications Manual: A Guide for Crisis Communication in Cannabis.
Heidi Groshelle is a partner at Ingrid Marketing, with more than 35 years of PR experience. Her team recently won an Hermes Platinum Award. You can reach Heidi at firstname.lastname@example.org.