Learning Goal: I’m working on a communications writing question and need the explanation and answer to help me learn.

In this project, you will demonstrate your mastery of the following competency:

  • Develop crisis communication plans to mitigate risks and unforeseen challenges

Scenario

Pasta Amore restaurant logo in red and green with the o of amore as a tomato.

You were recently hired as the director of communications at Pasta Amore, an Italian restaurant chain with the following mission: To provide a warm atmosphere for your family where we can share the traditional cuisines of Italy. Our food will always be fun, fresh, and filled with love. The restaurant owner, Marco Moretti, created the new director of communications role after another local restaurant, Ellas Salmon, experienced a crisis and was unprepared to handle it. Ellas Salmon served contaminated food to its guests, which lead to an outbreak of salmonella. The restaurants lack of a clear crisis communication plan led to its eventual closure because customers no longer felt safe eating the food. Marco is worried that Pasta Amore would be equally unprepared to handle a similar crisis. While he is working with other departments to ensure food safety procedures are followed, he has tasked you with creating a thorough crisis communication plan to mitigate risks and unforeseen challenges as your first assignment in this new role.

You will need to consider your customers, your employees, and the community as stakeholders when creating a crisis communication plan. Your customers and the community are likely concerned that they may get sick eating out at restaurants after the incident at Ellas Salmon. They may also be wondering what will be done from a health perspective to prevent this from happening at Pasta Amore. Your employees are likely concerned about a similar crisis happening and maintaining their jobs if it does. Consider these and any other possible risks while creating your plan.

When creating a crisis communication plan, there are many things to keep in mind, including audiences, messaging, and command centers. Some of your colleagues are confused about why Pasta Amore needs a crisis communication plan, so Marco has asked you to include an introduction that explains the importance of having a plan in place. Marco has also stressed the importance of understanding the vision and corporate philosophy of Pasta Amore as you create a crisis communication plan. Review this information in the image below.

Pasta Amore logo and image of pasta dish on the right. On the left, vision statement

Directions

  • Introduction: Marco would like your crisis communication plan to begin with a solid introduction that helps your colleagues understand the importance of having a plan in place. The plan makes some of your colleagues feel nervous that they are doing something wrong because they do not understand why a plan is being made before a crisis has occurred. In your introduction, be sure to include the following:
    • An explanation as to the value of a crisis communication plan
    • An overview of what will be included in your plan and a brief statement as to why each section is important
  • Audiences and Stakeholders: It is important for Pasta Amore to be prepared to respond to any audience and stakeholder questions and concerns. List some of the primary questions and concerns that may be asked by customers, employees, and the community. While other stakeholders may exist, focus on these three groups for the purposes of your crisis communication plan.
    • One method of creating questions is to put yourself in the shoes of the stakeholders. For example, if you were a customer of Pasta Amore and heard about a salmonella outbreak, what are some of the questions that you might ask?
  • Messages: Next, create messages for each of the three aforementioned audiences. Be sure that your messages are clear, direct, and honest and provide valuable answers to the potential questions that you posed in the previous section. Your messages should include the following:
    • A brief description of the type of message response (email, letter, social media message, etc.)
    • The full text that will be included in the message content
  • Command Centers: Establishing command centers and a chain of command is important in a crisis situation. In your plan, be sure to do the following:
    • Explain why it is important for Pasta Amore to set up a command center and chain of command during a crisis situation
    • Propose one option for Pasta Amore to establish a command center and chain of command. Consider who should be in command (an owner, a communications director, a partner, etc.) as well as a possible alternative meeting site if the restaurant were unavailable (for instance, if the health department shut it down).
  • Risks: With any crisis, there are inherent risks. Include a section that discusses risks that Pasta Amore should consider while planning for a crisis such as a salmonella outbreak. Answer the following questions:
    • What are possible negative outcomes if Pasta Amore does not respond promptly and accurately? Discuss at least two.
    • What are possible negative outcomes even if Pasta Amore does respond promptly and accurately? Discuss at least two.
  • Conclusion: Finally, wrap up your crisis communication plan with a conclusion. In your conclusion, include the following:
    • Discuss how to use this crisis communication plan in application to other scenarios. Consider this question: How can having a specific plan help mitigate future risks and unforeseen circumstances?
    • Explain any ethical and legal considerations that should be taken into account with this and future crisis communication plans at Pasta Amore. For instance, should a lawyer be consulted? Are there company values to take into account when communicating messages and making decisions in a crisis? Is there ever a time when information should be withheld?

What to Submit

Every project has a deliverable or deliverables, which are the files that must be submitted before your project can be assessed. For this project, you must submit the following:

Crisis Communication Plan
You will create a crisis communication plan with an introduction and conclusion for Pasta Amore to prepare for the possibility of transmitting a foodborne illness to its diners. Your crisis communication plan must be 1,000 to 1,500 words in length. If you include references in your plan, cite any and all references appropriately.


Supporting Materials

The following resource(s) may help support your work on the project:

Need help citing your sources? Use the CfA Citation Guide and Citation Maker.