As a consumer-facing, multi-channel business operating in a highly competitive sector, your company probably has more issues to deal with day to day than President Trump’s press secretary. One little rogue comment from your Chief Exec, one delay in a shipment, or one faulty product line and you’ve potentially got a reputational nightmare on your hands. If you are “lucky” enough to be the one responsible for managing your business’ reputation, then this guide to Crisis Comms for the food and drink industry is for you.
Before the crisis
If you’re reading this, you may already be facing a crisis within your business and require urgent help. We offer immediate short term and if needed long term support. You can reach us here to find out more.
If you’re not under immediate pressure, then it’s a good time to get organised and identify where your risks might come from. Read this short guide on how to do this.
Once you’re clear on your exposure to certain risks, appoint someone to monitor them and alert you as soon as they feel a problem may arise. This could mean:
- Providing each of your heads of operation and logistics, as well as site managers, with a clear escalation process and an emergency contact number
- Notifying IT of the issues the management team are interested to hear about
- Designating someone in Customer Services to monitor for trends that could be potentially damaging
- Setting up a digital social media listening and alert tool
As the crisis hits
Should something go wrong, the hope is that you or someone you trust within the business spots it before anyone else does. That way, you have time to fix the problem and prepare appropriate communications in case of a leak of information to the press or on social media.
The senior management team should be alerted to the issue with details of how it is being handled as soon as possible.
There may be many different people to communicate with: customers, employees, partners, suppliers, shareholders, family of staff, and so on.
If the issue is made public and affects your operations and customers, then it may be wise to issue a short statement on your social media channels and on your website with assurances that the issue is being dealt with.
For guidance, it’s recommended to engage with an experienced Crisis Communications team to help you through the process.
As long as the issue is being discussed publicly, you should monitor social media, the press and customer service lines and hold frequent calls with the management team to keep them updated.
Depending on the size of crisis, and the impact on your company’s reputation, you may well need to take a clear stance on the issue and show how seriously you are taking things to ensure it never happens again.
The key thing is to analyse your response, the reaction of your stakeholders and the public and learn how to improve for next time. While there is no such thing as a perfect crisis response, the more practice, preparation and analysis you do, the better you’ll perform in future.