For All Types of Companies, A Crisis Communication Plan is Key

While we never wish for a catastrophe, it is unfortunately an inevitable part of business. We have all seen a company’s or public figure’s image topple in the wake of a tragedy due to poor preparation and improper handling of the situation. Think of the criticism of the response to Hurricane Katrina in 2008 or the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill off the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. While your company may not foresee a large-scale disaster like these, it’s important to have a response plan in place for any accident that your company may face. The Oster and Associates team has a proven track record of assisting clients with planning for disaster of all types and sizes. Here are three examples of how we’ve supported companies with their crisis communications planning.

In the wake of the May 2015 firestorms and in the midst of a drought, Armstrong Garden Centers saw an opportunity to educate consumers on fire abatement techniques. Because wildfires are unpredictable, it was important that a plan be in place for when the weather changed and fires were likely to rapidly generate. Oster and Associates prepared a press release and distribution list in advance and, when wildfire conditions arrived, the release was distributed, resulting in news stories aimed at protecting consumers’ property before wildfires begin. Not only did this provide timely tips to homeowners on how to keep their homes and loved ones safe, it also elevated Armstrong Garden Centers’ brand awareness as an expert on gardening and lawn care.

In any type of extreme sport, there is a high level of inherent danger. Therefore, a crisis communication plan is imperative. The 2012-2013 ski season was monumental for former Oster and Associates client Big Bear Mountain Resorts due to unexpected tragedies. The manhunt for former LAPD officer Christopher Dorner, who was wanted for killing four people, converged upon the ski resort in February 2013. As SWAT teams set up camp at the base of Bear Mountain, Oster and Associates aggressively worked with media to protect the safety of the public by disseminating proper information to mountain visitors. These proactive measures not only kept everyone safe, but preserved the image of Big Bear Mountain Resorts as a family-friendly ski and snowboard destination.

Organics Unlimited, a long-time client, felt the need for crisis communication planning because of unforeseen natural disasters around the world. With so many catastrophic events occurring, Organics Unlimited wanted to create a way to help communities near its organic banana farms recover if a disaster should strike. With the help of Oster and Associates, Organics Unlimited created a designated sub-fund within its GROW program that can be used in multiple stages of disaster relief, such as immediate response – providing food, water and medical treatment quickly after a catastrophe – or long-term, such as rebuilding schools and homes. This will allow Organics Unlimited to take immediate action in the aftermath of a natural disaster.

Check to see if your company currently has a disaster response plan. These should be updated annually as part of your marketing plan for the upcoming year. If you don’t have one in place, we are happy to help your business create one that addresses your specific concerns based on your type of business and audience.

– Hannah