You have to prepare for the worst-case scenario to protect the brand and reputation you have built. An unprepared company risks losing a lot more than its reputation.
Crisis has struck the organic industry before. A recent example was the finding of contaminants in a fertiliser product, which resulted in significant media coverage that affected businesses.
Careful planning gives your company the chance to survive and also to improve its relationships and reputation.
Sometimes it’s the strength of relationships with stakeholders that can protect your reputation. During a crisis, stakeholders and the media will look at previous incidents and act accordingly. By stockpiling goodwill and nurturing relationships before and after an incident you are contributing to the long-term survival of your company.
How to start your crisis communication plan
1. Start thinking of the ‘unthinkable’
List some of the things you think couldn’t happen to your business. Start brainstorming worst- case situations; the worst crises are those that have a low probability and high impact.
2. Decide which employees need to know about the crisis and what they need to do
Order your communication into three or four categories – from the most important inside your company, such as a crisis team and CEO, to government bodies and key investors, media and the community. This order does change depending on the situation.
3. Decide how you would contact the people who need to know
Having direct lines of communication with these individuals benefits your company by creating more efficiency during a crisis. It also strengthens relationships with key stakeholders, building confidence and goodwill.
4. Decide how you want to talk with external stakeholders and the media
Outline your communication principles and create a timetable for crisis communication. Write a basic template for media releases and alerts.
5. Elect a spokesperson
By pre-electing and pre-training a company spokesperson to communicate with the media and stakeholders you are building credibility, identity and confidence.
6. Monitor the public response to your crisis
Are you using or monitoring social media? If a crisis strikes it will show first on social media. By breaking the news first you can set the agenda and direction of news coverage. Monitoring social media and traditional media responses to your crisis management can direct you to areas that are of concern to the public, enabling a quick response.
Planning for a crisis may be easier than you think and it may be the only way to survive one. Are you prepared?