“Crisis response and crisis communication are linked by process and policy,” said Alan Sterling, Director of Marketing for Wayne Farms LLC. He was speaking to professionals from the poultry industry who had gathered at the 2011 Communications Strategies Workshop in Atlanta, GA. The conference was sponsored by USPOULTRY.
Sterling provided an overview of Wayne Farms’ crisis management plan in his presentation, One Company’s Crisis Action Plan. Sterling commented, “Our crisis management plan comes from the top down, and solutions come from the bottom up. The processes are in place, and we train against it.”
Sterling’s presentation focused specifically on crisis events and revolved around a six-step process, which includes identification, collection, notification, analysis, communications, and monitoring/assessment.
Mike Martin, Director of Communications for Cargill Inc., gave a presentation on Community Outreach…Spreading Your Positive Message. Martin began his presentation by discussing the beef article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune that led to Cargill being featured on the Oprah Winfrey show earlier this year, and then described the process of preparing for the Oprah Winfrey feature on the Cargill company. Martin observed that there were 7.3 million households that saw the first airing of the Oprah Winfrey show, with two subsequent viewings, and questioned what it would take to reach 7.3 million households otherwise. Martin remarked, “Our goal was to tell our story in a transparent manner.” He went on to say, “If we are brave and we have a good story to tell, we should do it. I think we have a lot of good stories to tell in animal agriculture that do not get told as often as they should be.” Martin concluded by saying that you have to be prepared, realize there are risks, and be aware that it is not always going to turn out the way you want.
Other sessions included Successful and Positive Ag Industry Communication, Communicating Current Industry Challenges, Raising Awareness Internally: Getting Your Employees Involved, Technology for Humane Processing, Communicating Animal Welfare Policies Effectively, Communicating the Industry’s Commitment to Quality in Feeding the World, Face Book/Social Media Strategies, and roundtable discussions on other various industry communication topics.