Welcome to Sharing Solutions!
Building a Crisis Communications Plan
The Virginia ABC Authority shares its plan with NABCA control jurisdiction members.
Communications Plan. This issue of Sharing Solutions gets into more detail about the Crisis Communications Plan and the need for having a comprehensive one on hand should an unfortunate circumstance occur. Additionally, the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority has agreed to share its entire Crisis Communications Plan with our control jurisdiction members.
In two words, a crisis plan helps with reputation management. In addition to an organization, an individual has a reputation to manage. In exploring personal thoughts and feelings, consider what comes to mind when you see Facebook or Harvey Weinstein? The most common examples demonstrating the need for having a crisis plan in education institutions even today, are Three Mile Island (an example of what not to do) and Tylenol, which recovered from its crisis within a year. Consider even the reputation of your agency.
It is critical to keep an organization operating using COOP protocols and at the same time dedicate staff, outline processes, and designate resources so the organization can maintain its reputation. By having and implementing a Crisis Communications Plan, it helps to reduce misinformation, encourage effective communication, and increase message timeliness.
Putting together a comprehensive plan takes a lot of time and support from leaders in an organization. Virginia ABC’s plan has been in the works for five years. Public Relations Manager Dawn Eischen took on the task of revising the organization’s plan three years ago when she joined Virginia ABC. She had previously used her crisis communications skills as a public information officer for the American Red Cross, Virginia Department of Emergency Management and Virginia Department of Transportation. According to Nick Schimick, director of communications for Virginia ABC, the plan became meaningful to senior leadership who understood the dangerous gap of not having a formal crisis plan.
With the Authority sharing its end product, the detailed plan includes examples of realistic and possible crisis scenarios, the critical staff needed to help take care of a crisis, the steps to be taken in developing messages, the forms to complete, and many other requirements for an organization to manage its reputation well.
NABCA appreciates the Virginia ABC Authority for allowing this entire document to be shared.
DISCLAIMER: Please note the Authority granted permission to circulate this plan with the NABCA board, the six advisory committees, and NABCA staff. The document is not for distribution outside of this group. Thank you.
New Hampshire Mocktail Week
New Hampshire has long embraced its mission of balancing generating critical state revenue with responsible alcohol sales and consumption. It’s first-ever NH Mocktail Week event is the latest example of showcasing the importance of responsibility that is getting the agency positive recognition from many important stakeholders. The week-long event is a collaboration between the New Hampshire Liquor Commission (NHLC), Brown-Forman, and The Mocktail Project, a grassroots movement helping to create a safer, more inclusive drinking culture.
Restaurants throughout the state were incentivized to add mocktails to their drink menus during NHLC’s Distiller’s Week in November, an annual celebration of spirits that culminates with the Distiller’s Showcase of Premium Spirits. To promote the program, Jesse Hawkins, founder of The Mocktail Project, created the state’s first official mocktail – the Squam Sunset. Crafted with locally-made Squamscot ginger ale, New Hampshire maple syrup, cinnamon simple syrup and fresh lemon juice. The Squam Sunset recipe can be made using the tutorial on Live Free and Host Responsibly website, which also includes recipes for Autumn Peach and Blackberry Smash mocktails.
Why mocktails? “People are becoming more health-conscious and want to know exactly what they are consuming,” Hawkins said. “Working with NHLC and Brown-Forman is a great example of how a more inclusive drinking culture can be embraced, and that it is perfectly acceptable to take a break from imbibing without giving up the experience of a bar setting or hosting a gathering at home.”
More than two dozen restaurants featured specially crafted alcohol-free drinks or mocktails on menus that week, building excitement for the event. Participants were encouraged to snap pictures and post them on social media tagging @themocktailproject and @nhliquorwine and hashtag #shareamocktail.
Mocktail Week is a continuation of the NHLC and Brown-Forman’s “Live Free & Host Responsibly” program which began five years ago. The award-winning collaboration has received praise for its creative approach to promoting responsible consumption with consumers, licensees, and business partners.
“We have a responsibility to our consumers to encourage safe and responsible consumption of alcohol,” said NHLC Chairman Joseph Mollica. “As our state celebrated Distiller’s Week, we wanted to be just as welcoming to those who either can’t imbibe, make the personal choice not to consume alcohol, or want to take a break from imbibing. Offering well-crafted, alcohol-free options is growing in popularity and we are proud to partner with Brown-Forman and The Mocktail Project to promote positive attitudes toward alcohol consumption.”
Plans are already coming together for 2020, although the format may change due to health and safety precautions related to COVID-19.
For more information visit www.liquorandwineoutlets.com/responsibility
For more information about this program contact:
E.J. Powers, 603.644.3200 extension 11, firstname.lastname@example.org
How COVID-19 Tested the VA ABC Authority
Premiere Issue, October 14, 2020
There is an upcoming session during the virtual NABCA Administrator’s Conference titled, “Hope is Not a Crisis Plan.” The speakers for this session will distinguish a Continuation of Operations Plan (COOP) from a Crisis Communications Plan. While many may believe that once an organization has a COOP they are covered in the event of a crisis, it is not exactly true, especially from a public relations perspective.
According to Nick Schimick, Director of Communications for the Virginia ABC Authority, a COOP addresses an emergency from an all-hazards approach. “It establishes policy and guidance ensuring that critical functions continue, and that personnel and resources are relocated to an alternate facility in case of emergencies. The COOP keeps the organization running,” he said.
A Crisis Communications Plan address gaps in information which may cause rampant speculation and foster misinformation which attacks an organization’s credibility and reputation. A crisis plan includes clear and consistent communications which need to be made frequently, even if repetitive. It is essential in successfully handling all crises and provides transparency which fosters trust among numerous organization stakeholders.
The Virginia ABC’s Crisis Communication Plan had been in the works for about two years. Spearheaded by Dawn Eischen, Public Information Officer, the plan provides a comprehensive strategy that:
- Facilitates overall communication between the Authority and its employees, customers, partners, board members and other state leaders, the news media, and the public.
- Ensures an effective response structure and chain of command for information, input, and decision-making.
- Contains and/or minimizes brand-damaging media coverage.
- Ensures that media coverage is as factual as possible.
Eishen’s crisis communications experience at the American Red Cross, the VA Department of Emergency Management, the VA Department of Transportation, and the VA Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, were meaningful to senior leadership who understood the dangerous gap in not having a formal crisis plan.
They realized that having a COOP simply was not enough and approved a scheduled roll out of the crisis plan. Nearing its completion, the communications team began working with the Authority’s emergency management and safety teams in early March on communications and media relations protocols. The test for the plan did not happen exactly as planned as the COVID-19 pandemic meant swiftly implementing it.
“It is completely safe to say that had we not proactively developed this plan and actively promoted it to leadership, our response to the pandemic would have been quite different than the professional and polished one we were ultimately able to deliver,” said Schimick.