Marijuana Business Magazine September 2018

possibility a key leader has done some- thing wrong,” Patrick said. “It includes how you address it, who steps in or takes over and how you talk about it.” Those kinds of vulnerabilities have to be discussed, said Amy Larson, the vice president of marketing at Denver’s Cohn Marketing and Cohnnabis, the agency’s cannabis marketing arm. Pinpointing C-level execs as potential liabilities is not fun, she said, and you should be sensitive in those conversations. SOCIAL MEDIA: FRIEND OR FOE IN A CRISIS? I n a crisis, it’s critical to quickly and thoughtfully implement your social media strategy. It’s also important to know how social media fits in your larger crisis communications response. “You have to look at social media as one of the tools in your toolkit,” said Kim Casey, communications manager for Colorado’s Native Roots Dispensary. In a crisis, Casey and communications experts Amy Larson and Mary Patrick advised: • Immediately start monitoring your social media chan- nels, such as Twitter and Facebook. You can use media-monitoring tools like TrendKite, Critical Men- tion and Meltwater to identify trends in online stories and comments. • Don’t go silent, don’t turn off commenting functions or delete comments and don’t delete your accounts. Turn- ing off or deleting comments becomes a story of its own and risks becoming its own indictment of the company. And, if you ignore social media, you lose the opportunity to craft your own narrative. • Do not respond to every negative comment. Instead, consider analytics before responding; strategic silence is also an option. On the last point, quickly look at analytics before youmake the strategic decision to engage a user, said Patrick, CEO of Chicago-based Jasculca Terman Strategic Communications. If someone who shares a negative post has only 20 followers, is it worth elevating their comment by responding? “Sometimes strategic silence is a better approach because you don’t want to give wind to someone’s sails,” Patrick said. With social media, there may be an impulse to respond immediately, but that might not be in your best interest. “Social media allows you speed – but is that a good thing or a bad thing?” Casey queried. Digital experts at Jasculca Terman pointed to Star- bucks as an example of a company that smartly lev- eraged its social media after two black men were arrested in a Philadelphia store in April. The com- pany used Twitter to issue its initial apology and take responsibility for the arrest, saying, “The basis for the call to the police” that led to the men’s arrest was “wrong.” Starbucks also used Twitter to announce a financial settlement with the men, an agreement to pay for the men to complete their undergraduate degrees through Starbucks’ College Achievement Plan, continued dia- logue on inclusion and equity, and its plan to provide a day of race-bias education for all store employees. On the flip side, United Airlines did little to quell public anger over video of a passenger being dragged off one of its airlines in 2017. In statements on social media, the airline refused to comment on the situation, instead apolo- gizing for overbooking the flight, which led to the man being forcibly removed from the plane. In his first statement, Oscar Munoz, CEO of United Airlines, apologized for having to re- accommodate customers – making only a brief mention of the man who was dragged off the plane. Whenweighing your social media response, avoid knee-jerk reactions, said Larson, vice president of marketing at Denver’s Cohn Marketing. You may say something you don’t mean to say or something that causes legal liability later. Or, “youmay say something that’s going to haunt you forever,” Larson said. “It’s going to live online, and you’re going to become ameme.” – Joey Peña “But if you’re taking a real 360-degree view of what could befall your company and how you best prepare for it, that definitely has to be part of the conversa- tion,” Larson said. Assess the Crisis It’s important to have tools in place to assess a crisis and ask the right questions. Patrick suggests a checklist that includes basic questions – who, what, when, where, why and how – and more sophisticated queries directly related to your crisis communications plan. The National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) has an incident- report template in its crisis communica- tions manual that prompts employees to ask those kinds of questions and provide an incident report. Larson, who is on the marketing and advertising com- mittee for the NCIA, said that kind of documentation is valuable because it can Kim Casey Amy Larson September 2018 • Marijuana Business Magazine • 45