Is your marijuana business prepared to handle a crisis?

(This is an abridged version of a story that appears in the September issue of Marijuana Business Magazine.)

It didn’t take long for #PermitPatty to start trending on social media – or for Allison Ettel to lose control of her business.

On June 23, Ettel, then-CEO of a California company that sells CBD tinctures, was filmed threatening to call authorities on an 8-year-old black girl for selling water on the street without a permit.

The sloppy aftermath – a shifting narrative, defensive apologies, botched media appearances, Ettel’s resignation from TreatWell Health and a sudden business rebrand – underscored the need for marijuana companies to do strategic crisis communications planning. Or potentially lose everything.

Marijuana Business Magazine spoke with communications experts about the importance of crisis communications planning and strategies for crafting an effective, professional crisis response.

A crisis communications plan should include:

  • Identifying a crisis planning and response team.
  • A roundup of potential crises or vulnerabilities – be it a large-scale product recall, a run-in with law enforcement or an event that unleashes a public relations nightmare (such as Ettel’s case).
  • A checklist of questions to ask in a crisis – who, what, when, where, why and how?
  • A list of stakeholders, such as investors or employees.
  • A rundown of different communications channels and an internal communications plan.
  • Key messages for various audiences, including an initial placeholder statement while you gather facts and templates for follow-up statements.

(Click here to read more about crisis communications.)

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