Creating appropriate crisis communications strategies is necessary for any business, but this is especially true for a cannabis crisis. Whether it’s a recall, or a significant event hits the industry, cannabis companies must change how they handle potential problems that could challenge their success. This is especially true for CPG companies like cannabis brands who also have the additional risk of a cannabis recall.
The unexpected can happen at any moment. For example, the COVID-19 outbreak limited business operations and disrupted consumer spending habits. Airlines canceled flights, and hotels stopped accepting reservations. Everyone went into lockdown, and it affected companies in every job industry.
You need to have a solid plan in place before you face a cannabis crisis that can significantly affect the cannabis industry. Adequate preparation could prevent a decline in profitability while you’re dealing with a new normal. You must develop necessary communications to address scenarios you could encounter. Circumstances constantly change, and it’s crucial to be ready for anything.
You might need to establish multiple communications channels. You should create a hub and assign specific people to lead each group. Allow your chosen leaders to review and approve statements and consistently provide updates to executives.
Each staff member within the groups should have scripts they use to answer external and internal inquiries. They should also have a list of updated contacts, so they have access to people they need to communicate with.
In a Crisis: Prioritize Safety
Consumers want to know they’re safe whenever a crisis hits. During the coronavirus pandemic, companies put safety measures in place to protect their employees and customers from unnecessary exposure. When you run a cannabis business, you should ensure everyone’s safety at all times. Anyone walking into your store or buying your product needs to know they’re in an environment that won’t make them sick.
Your communications should address safety concerns. Anyone overseeing an internal employee should work with HR and legal teams to develop policies regarding sick leave, working shifts, office health, and telecommuting options during a crisis. You should also create a plan to approach conversations between managers and employees, so information flows seamlessly throughout the company.
Instruct groups handling communication with consumers to advise the protocols you follow regarding cleaning and health. Your customers should be aware of the maximum capacity in your stores and how your workers handle cannabis deliveries without putting others at risk.
Your website is essential for communicating with the public during a crisis. Update your page frequently to inform others of your company’s policies. Advise them of the steps you’re taking to address current issues and prevent further problems from arising.
Your customers should know you take their health and safety seriously during this challenging time. You’re not willing to place them in harm’s way when there’s a crisis. All the safety precautions you take are meant to protect you, your employees, and the public.
The team you designate to handle regulatory affairs will play a valuable role in your company. They can liaise with federal and state health officials to keep your business up to date on evolving safety protocols. The team should communicate regularly with officials and share accurate and detailed information with management and staff. They should also notify officials of what your company is doing to comply with the required regulations.
Impact of Cannabis as an Essential Business
Many states see the cannabis industry as essential. Instead of shutting down with other businesses when there’s a crisis, these companies can remain open. However, acquiring and maintaining the status of an essential business isn’t a guarantee for success. You must have a plan to respond to the local government’s regulatory agendas and address their concerns if you want to continue operating.
You can plan how you’ll communicate the essential nature of your product by discussing the medical needs of cannabis. Lobby for an essential status designation from the leaders in your area. Taking action now could prevent a crisis from negatively affecting your company in the future.
Employees in your PR and marketing groups can explain the medical and social benefits of cannabis to a large audience. They can show the public the importance of the cannabis industry and how it can help people navigate a crippling crisis, such as the Covid-19 pandemic.
Your media team can also inform reporters of your company’s philanthropic efforts. Some businesses donated hand sanitizer to healthcare workers to keep them safe and prevent the further spread of the virus. Journalists and news outlets can get the word out about your industry’s dedication to the well-being of residents within the community.
Don’t Forget About Your Investors
You must maintain frequent and ongoing crisis communications with anyone with financial interests in your company, such as investors and suppliers. Instruct your team to communicate with your suppliers regarding retail challenges and inventory shortages they might face. Try to come up with solutions to the problem before they happen, so you protect your retailer’s and supplier’s bottom lines.
Any investors you formed a relationship with should be aware of the steps you’re taking to resume normal business operations. Your team must identify essential business functions, such as supply chain services and critical jobs, that are necessary to continued operations with limited disruptions.
Your spokespeople must warn investors of potential disruptions to operating procedures. Your investors should also know about your plans for an emergency and how you’re going to recover once the crisis is over.
Streamlining your crisis communications strategy means you can successfully navigate any crisis you face. Review statements you make before releasing them to determine whether they reflect your company culture and the impact you have on your customers. The cannabis industry can overcome complex obstacles and thrive with strategic and effective communication plans.
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This article originally appeared on Avaans Media PR Cannabis