A few weeks ago, a cantaloupe farm from Southern Colorado became the center of attention, but not the kind of attention a small organization would opt for. A listeria outbreak linked to the farm caused 72 illnesses and 13 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This outbreak has been deemed the deadliest in the United States in more than a decade.
Disasters such as these serve as important reminders to make sure crisis communications plans are ready to go. Following are some ideas to keep top of mind when starting or reviewing that plan:
- Create a messaging platform – A number of important points should be put together to combat any questions brought on by the media and any customers, such as addressing the issue at hand, explaining what the company is doing to settle the issue and move forward in a positive direction, etc.
- Provide constant updates on new information – As more information is gathered and received, every bit should be readily available and shared with the public.
- If needed, gather third party support – If there are holes in the information for the crisis, hire additional support, such as investigators. Do everything you can to find out all of the little details so there are no missing pieces to the puzzle.
- Gather support from the industry – If this is an issue comparable to the cantaloupe saga, it will affect other players in the industry. Communicate with other companies in similar spaces who can help communicate information about the issue as well.
- Hire a communications firm with experience in crises – There are many firms that focus extensively on crisis management and can help companies mitigate the damaging effects of a crisis.
— PondelWilkinson, firstname.lastname@example.org