It happens: people are getting ill after eating at your restaurant creating a food related crisis for your restaurant. Recently in North Carolina, cases of food borne illnesses have been in the news including hundreds of people sickened causing hospitalization from many states and including one death. Food borne illnesses such as salmonella outbreaks are very serious situations for patrons and the restaurant. Probes and criminal investigations can be mounted and lawsuits filed.
Do you know how to communicate during a food related crisis?
Communication is key in a crisis during a food related crisis. Getting the correct facts and information out to the public as efficiently as possible is important. Health and safety of the community is paramount. How you react in the “Golden Hour” as the crisis unfolds sets the tone.
While most restaurants will never face a crisis of the magnitude of salmonella outbreak or any other food related crisis, preparation is key for any crisis. And the more you are prepared, the better you are able to set the tone managing the conversation when a crisis hits.
The initial communications such as the internal staff meetings, press briefing, updates on the website, or messages sent out via social media are critical. This is when being proactive is key
How do you set the tone?
You build trust and credibility by communicating after you have closed the restaurant to stop more illness:
• Empathy and caring by showing concern for the victims.
• Competence and expertise by explaining the process in lay terms.
• Honesty and openness while not over reassuring.
• Commitment and dedication by telling people how it is going to be resolved.
Legal counsel tries to protect the organization from unnecessary actions. Unknowingly they are hampering efforts to get correct information out and setting a tone of collaboration. Legal counsel should be included in crisis communications planning including the development of any holding statements.
The natural reaction of organizations often is to shutdown and get defensive instead of truly communicating. A crisis of this level, it is so important to communicate in a truthful, meaningful, respectful manner. It is OK not to have the answers due to the situation being so fluid, but it is not OK to say nothing or start the blame game.
Are you prepared to communicate during a food borne crisis? If the answer is no then contact us today!
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TIME CRUNCH? Are you putting your crisis communications plan together and need help? Or are currently dealing with a crisis and need crisis communications assistance? Get help NOW. Contact Ann Marie at firstname.lastname@example.org or +1 302.563.0992 today.