Marijuana Business Magazine September 2018

an executive coach and isn’t afraid to say ‘no’ or ‘you can’t’ or ‘you shouldn’t.’That kind of expertise is so important.” Also, in advance of a crisis, designate a point person who’ll call the shots and choose your spokespeople. “When you’re in a crisis, who speaks for your organization really says a lot about the level of the crisis,” Patrick said. “When do you choose your presi- dent and CEO or your attorney or your communications person?” G aynell Rogers, the co-founder of Treehouse Global Ventures, an investment fund in Sacramento, Cali- fornia, founded by women for women in cannabis, and the head of media relations for Harborside, a vertically integrated marijuana company in Oakland and San Jose, California, shared tips for managing media in a crisis. 1. Planning and timing: Be prepared. Your crisis commu- nications plan – including potential crises and all the “what-ifs” – should be in place before you respond. Your response team should include the company’s founders as well as marketing, communications, social media and IT specialists. If a plan is in place, you should respond within two hours of a crisis, Rogers said. “One of the things I’ve noticed in the past decade is a shoot-from-the hip attitude, deal with it when it happens,” said Rogers, who has been a marketing and media consultant for more than 30 years. “Wrong. You have to plan ahead, practice and be prepared.” 2. Messaging: Don’t wait to consult with a public relations specialist experienced in crisis communications. Their expertise is needed in the planning process, and it’s often too late to hire such a person when a crisis strikes. Also, leave emotion out of your message. “When your work is meaningful and rewarding, it’s hard not to be emotional,” Rogers said. However, “Emotion can cloud your messaging.” And, in a major crisis, skip the spokes- person: “People don’t want to see a spokesperson,” Rogers said. “They want to see a founder or company owner engaged in a crisis response.” Also, the message should be concise and transparent. 3. Social media: Your social media specialist should be prepared immediately to manage all your accounts dur- ing a crisis. It’s helpful to share screenshots to provide context for the crisis you’re addressing and show proof, Rogers said. For example, if you’re forced to issue a product recall, share a screenshot of test results or a graphic with affected batch numbers and products as well as a visual for what you’re doing to fix the problem. Always provide a solution. 4. Video: Video messages are more effective than print statements, but they can require media training for the speaker. Speakers should look at the camera, be completely engaged in the message and speak in an even, strong tone. A good example, Rogers said, is Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson’s sincere video apology and follow-up on racial bias training after two black men were arrested in a Philadelphia Starbucks last spring. 5. Company education: Prioritize communications with your staff and your internal audience, Rogers said. Inter- nal communications during a crisis can foster loyalty and engagement. A crisis can touch varied components of your operation, so it’s important you communicate with your employees and engage them during crisis response. – Joey Peña FIVE TIPS FOR MANAGING MEDIA IN A CRISIS When you single out potential crises, also identify who’ll need to be included on the crisis response team, Patrick advised. For example, if a product tests positive for a pesticide, you’ll want culti- vators at the table to share their expertise. Identify Potential Problems Whether it’s a product recall or a C-level executive’s sudden resignation, you need to identify potential crises and your company’s vulnerabilities. Cannabis companies are prone to the same crises other businesses face, but they are uniquely vulnerable to frequent and disruptive new regulations and, of course, police stings or raids. Identifying potential crises or vulner- abilities can be uncomfortable – espe- cially because you have to acknowledge that a business leader may become a liability, as in the case of #PermitPatty. “Part of every crisis plan we put together includes the chance or the Gaynell Rogers 44 • Marijuana Business Magazine • September 2018