When a crisis happens, you can either be reactive or proactive. We can hear you now…of course we’ll be proactive! But the problem with being proactive is that you have to proactively be proactive……..meaning you have to plan for a crisis LONG before you have one. If you are proactive and have a plan, you can anticipate events and act in advance to deal with unexpected difficulties.
We would like to help you create an emergency action plan, but that’s a little advanced for a blog post! Instead we will talk about the five C’s of crisis communication. Hopefully these will help you talk with the press and your community during a crisis situation.
In agriculture, there will always be issues:
Additionally, there is a public perception about farming:
But most importantly, you may have a problem. Because let’s face it – accidents happen, fires happen, chemical spills happen, fights happen, natural disasters happen, injuries happen.
- Concern – Let them know you care. It’s easy to dismiss public concerns when you know that they are unfounded, but if you dismiss their concerns, the public will fight back. In order to be deemed credible, you need to relate to them. Unfortunately, many crises result around an accident of some kind which may involve a victim. The public needs to understand that you really care about them. Be sure not to talk about how you or your operation are suffering in that issue but focus on the victim and their family.
- Clarity – Understand public concerns. Be sure to clarify the situation for the public and let them know that you understand their concerns. The public will be more favorable towards you if you can help them understand the full situation.
- Commitment – Be genuine. You need to make the public understand that you are really committed to communicating with them about this issue. Yes, you’d probably rather be back at your operation dealing with things, but they don’t need to know that!
- Confidence – Make them believe you can handle this. The public must perceive that you are capable of handling the situation (even if you aren’t sure that you are). You need to make them trust in you and your operation.
- Competence – Know your stuff. If you appear to not have all of the facts, people will pounce on it. Unfortunately, the press and your community can’t see all of the details of how you handled a crisis, so they have to rely on how you deal with the spotlight. If you are prepared and know the details of the incident, you will look competent.
Hopefully you will never need to use these skills, but it’s much better to have them and not need them than to need them and not have them.
If you want to get into these issues a little bit more and develop a full emergency action plan, FamilyFarms Group would LOVE to help you with that, too.