NC Cooperative Extension

The N.C. Cooperative Extension Service houses a multidisciplinary group of professionals at the N.C. Research Campus as part of the Plants for Human Health Institute. Providing expertise in farm business management, communications and marketing, and fresh produce safety, these Cooperative Extension staff serve as an outreach component to complement the research conducted at PHHI.

Crisis Communication

Crisis Communication

Media are the main sources of information for Americans. When a food-related crisis occurs, people turn to the media for facts, reassurance and guidance on purchasing behaviors going forward. It is critical for growers to understand the need for effective crisis communication and the impact it can have on their operations. The materials below were developed by communication and public relations experts in the agriculture industry to help growers and Extension agents prepare for and work with the media during crises.


Crisis Communication Training Resources

N.C. MarketReady Crisis Preparedness Training (PDF) (Word)
N.C. MarketReady coordinated the development of this document to provide crisis communications templates that can be used by agricultural entities. Each agricultural organization (growers, shippers, commodity boards) has the ability to customize these crisis communications templates with specific details regarding their operations. While each group will have its own unique challenges, this document acts as a guide from which a crisis program may be put into place.

Dealing with Controversies and Crises: Working with the News Media

The resources in this section were developed as part of the N.C. Fresh Produce Safety training curriculum. They are intended to help Extension agents and growers work with the media during times of crisis as well as proactively prepare to deal with crises before they occur.

  • Developing a Message Map
    • A key step in effective media communications is to develop clear and concise messages that address key audiences’ questions and concerns. A message map allows an operation to develop and organize key talking points about the business in advance of a crisis.
  • Making Your Point: A Media Relations Checklist
    • Growers and Extension agents should use this checklist when preparing for a media interview. Included are tips, questions and guidelines to help communicate the operation’s messages.
  • Media Basics: When a Reporter Calls
    • Preparation is the key to becoming comfortable with media calls and interviews. These tips should help prepare Extension agents and growers to work effectively with reporters.
  • 8 Questions the Media Always Ask
    • There are certain questions the media will almost always ask when covering a food-related crisis. Be prepared when the media calls by developing responses to the questions in this document in advance.

Extension agents can find additional materials, including the full N.C. Cooperative Extension and N.C. State University crisis communication plans, in the Agent Resources section.

Growers and others can contact a local Cooperative Extension agent with questions or for more information.


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