Where There’s Smoke

Fires. Smoke. Accidents. Scandals. Deaths. Lawsuits. Layoffs. All these events—and others you’ve never imagined—can impact your winery. Do you have a crisis communication plan?

Michael Turney, professor of communication at Northern Kentucky University, likens having a crisis communication plan to auto insurance.

“Most of us purchase automobile accident insurance even though we’re statistically more likely to not have an accident than to have one,” Turney states. “So, buying insurance is also a way of planning for something that may not happen, and most auto insurance policies sit in drawers gathering dust. Despite this, clear-thinking drivers do not forego car insurance, and knowledgeable communicators do not try to get by without a crisis communication plan.”

I was in Santa Rosa last October following the devastating wildfires and saw firsthand what can happen when communication comes too little and too late. We remember the #sonomastrong campaign to counteract #sonomafire. The time to create your plan is before you need it.

Elements of a Crisis Communication Plan

1) Identify critical stakeholders, such as:

  • employees
  • stockholders
  • club members
  • suppliers
  • media

2) Define tasks:

  • Who makes the decisions and directs operations, keeping the team updated?
  • Who keeps employees—and possibly their families—updated?
  • Who is the spokesperson that will publically announce new developments, articulate the winery’s positions, and handle media interviews?
  • Who will assist with arranging interviews and distributing background information to the media? How might this person help with fact-checking to support the spokesperson?
  • Who will communicate with investors, especially if the situation results in financial uncertainty?
  • Who will monitor phone calls, emails, and social media posts to appropriately route crisis-related messages and responses?

3) Create a crisis communication team roster that identifies specific people who can take on each task.

  • Be sure contact information (cell phone, email, home address) for each person is current. If the organization is large, include current job titles and departments.
  • Add at least one or more people who can back-fill for each task.

4) Share the plan with all employees and update it with every change in personnel.

5) Create (or gather) boilerplate information about the winery that can be available to the media.

Are You Ready?

Do you need help developing a crisis plan for your winery? Are you having a crisis and need immediate assistance with communication to your stakeholders and the media? We can quickly step in to help with practical, actionable advice. Call 541.601.0114, email, or use our contact form today.

Knowledgeable communicators do not try to get by without a crisis communication plan. Click To Tweet

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