COVID-19 Crisis Communications for Your Cannabis Company

Author: Neko Catanzaro, Vice-President of Public Relations and Brand Development, Proven Media

COVID-19 Crisis Communications for Your Cannabis Company

During times of crisis, it is important for companies and brands to continue consistent and timely communications that uphold their core values.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has officially classified the COVID-19 outbreak as a pandemic making it critical to control your company messaging so that your internal team and external community feel safe and supported.

  • DON’T go dark
  • DON’T assume the “business as usual” mantra

This is not a normal situation and treating it as one will appear insensitive or out of touch.

  • Communication protocol: A clear chain of command needs to be established to provide efficient communication of a crisis situation.
  • Internal (advocates for stakeholders) vs. External (public/media) communication channels
  • Will there be paid sick leave?
  • Ensure all of their stakeholders, employees, and customers have the information they need to feel safe and supported.
  • Messaging / Template Statements: Start a framework for company statements that follow a similar pattern of address:
  • Acknowledge what is happening
  • State what your company has done
  • Medical marijuana patients who have compromised immune systems could be more susceptible to COVID-19, what steps are you taking to manage that?
  • Social distancing strategies in retail environments
  • Alternative consumption options to smoking
  • State what your company plans on doing
  • Provide ongoing updates as to your company’s status on an internal and external level

Social Channels

Digital and social channels are a valuable medium to convey these communications.

  • Educate: Provide information to your community and followers on the criticality of the situation, health steps are taken as a company to manage the crisis, and to amplify information that is being distributed by organizations like the WHO.
  • Empathy: Be considerate of your followers through your tone of voice. It should be thoughtful, fact-based, and transparent, as well as Inspire confidence in your brand through your actions.
  • Anticipate: Your customer’s behavior and the environment are going to be different during a crisis. Utilize your social platforms as a network to support the evolving needs of your community. For individuals who are working remotely or in isolation, social channels and live-streaming will be an effective way to connect and provide a welcome distraction.

Proactive Tips

  • Review and evaluate all scheduled content on social
  • Monitor the media for updates
  • Brand messaging should align with the latest information and reference trusted sources like the CDC and World Health Organization.  
  • Staying up to date allows your brand to establish further trust with your followers, because messages that may have felt right yesterday, might not be accurate today.
  • Set-up dark pages on your website
  • Allows your company to host important information and share it through a link, versus having valuable content get lost across social channels

Concluding Message

Be considerate and thoughtful. People across the globe and in your community are being impacted by COVID-19 in a variety of ways, your messaging should reflect this.

article image source: williamette week

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