Liability Insurance Contributing Columnist

 


Don’t Forget Communications In Your Crisis Planning

Jen Pino-Gallagher
Director of Food & Agribusiness Practice
M3 Insurance
jen.pinogallagher@m3ins.com

July 20, 2018


 

It’s a dairy processor or cheese maker’s worst fear: A potentially brand damaging, supply-chain disrupting or life-threatening issue arises which must be dealt with immediately.

The adage of “bad news travels fast” is magnified in today’s mobile-connected world.

News of a food safety issue or crisis situation is no longer confined to the processor’s home town or state but rather can span the globe in a matter of hours — or even minutes.

...a company’s communication during a crisis is no different than any other element of continuity planning, the better the plan, the greater likelihood of a positive outcome. That means the chances of your organization’s image and reputation being greatly damaged are minimized.

I asked, Jeff Christensen, client communications advisor at M3 Insurance, for his advice on preparing for a crisis situation. He has been working with organizations to plan for and handle crisis communications for the past 15 years.

According to Jeff, a company’s communication during a crisis is no different than any other element of continuity planning, the better the plan, the greater likelihood of a positive outcome. That means the chances of your organization’s image and reputation being greatly damaged are minimized.

According to Jeff, here are some things to be mindful of when your organization makes the investment to create a crisis communications plan:

Crisis communications is a process. The core of a good crisis communications plan is a solid process. Keep in mind that process must be adaptable to situations, as it is impossible to game plan for all the risk possibilities that your organization faces. For the sake of good communications, your team should follow the same process for a fire as they would for a personnel issue. The inputs and the outputs will be different, but the core process will be the same.

Define roles early. Like any other situation, a crisis communications strategy needs defined roles to maximize success. Take the time to build roles into your plan which create clear rules and assign responsibilities before an event occurs. Your team should know who will craft your message, who will approve your message, and how your message will be distributed internally and externally before the need arises.

Don’t be afraid of outside help. Most organizations have a communications and/or marketing team that works hard to enhance your brand. As good as they are, they likely aren’t experienced in crisis communications. Crisis communications is a highly specialized niche of public relations which protects your brand in a time of need. Don’t be afraid to ask your risk management experts for help in building a plan or proactively develop a relationship with a public relations firm that can protect your image in a worst case scenario.

• Post event follow-up. When an event is over, it is easy to turn the page and move on to the next task at hand. However, it’s important to make sure your plan has space for post-event analysis. You’ll want to understand if your brand was damaged because of the event and give your marketing team the opportunity to repair your image.

While creating your plan, it’s important to remember that you can’t account for every possible scenario. That makes having solid infrastructure, such as a process, a team and pre-determined roles in place a cornerstone of a successful communication strategy. Being prepared is often the difference between an event being a long day and a bad day.

 


 

 

Jen Pino-Gallagher

How Cheese Names
Have
Gone From Quaint
To Contentious

April 13, 2018

 
 

Jim Brunker

Reducing Supply-Chain Risk Through
Teamwork & Internal Communication

November 10, 2017

 
 

Jim Yeager

Moving From Local
Exposure To A Global
Footprint

September 15, 2017

 

Casey FitzRandolph

Breaking Through Workforce Language Barriers

June 15, 2018