Crisis Communications & Strategic Recovery
No one plans to have a crisis but having a plan during a crisis is critical. Our team was hired by a national retail food company to deal with a crisis incident involving tainted food. The company had never experienced an incident on a national level that covered multiple states. Within days of customers becoming sick, some even hospitalized, sales at stores across the Midwest had fallen off anywhere from 25% – 80%.
Our team mapped out a crisis communications plan that included addressing the immediate issue of dozens of media inquiries and requests for interviews, but also a plan to simultaneously rebuild the company reputation and sales. We started by getting all of the scientific facts, from a trusted government agency. As is turned out, the infected product was from a vendor that had also infected other restaurants.
Rather than wait for a government agency to attempt to clear the company’s good name in 4 or 5 months, our client took our advice and implemented the proactive steps to address the food crisis at the moment, as well as reassure their customers their products were safe to eat again in the future.
We worked around the clock with the client in the first 48 hours to develop a media strategy that could be implemented as close to the original media cycle as possible and not allow consumer opinions to become fixed. The crisis communications plan consisted of a three-state media swing with the CEO conducting media interviews, as well as allowing members of the media to film him as he prepared food for the customers in the store. The company CEO spent hours in media coaching sessions, staged and prepared by our team, to prepare him for the exact situation he would face at each location.
Upon completion of the media tour, the client was extremely happy with the level of preparedness our team member had provided for him, stating that at each location he was asked the exact same questions by the reporters that he had been asked during the role-playing sessions we had conducted with him. And most importantly to him and the company, store sales in almost all locations throughout the Midwest had returned to pre-incident levels in less than 30 days.
Our team provided rapid, informed, and strategic crisis communications for our client at one of the worst times in the company’s history. You may not plan to have a crisis but knowing where to go when the crisis hits can be the life or death of your brand.