Ensuring Crisis Preparedness by Rehearsing Response Plans with a Cross-Functional Crisis Team

A national commodity promotion board, one of the largest in the U.S., is tasked with consumer education and stimulating sales and consumption through initiatives including research, consumer advertising and public relations.

While the board was prepared for a variety of crises with established communications plans, it was missing the practical experience of testing the plans through possible real-life scenarios and familiarizing the response team with their roles. Linhart PR led a crisis simulation for more than a dozen participants who left the training feeling more prepared to handle their crisis responsibilities, while also uncovering areas of opportunity to strengthen the crisis response plans.

Crisis & Reputation Management
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Because maintaining consumer confidence is the top priority, the board is well-prepared with detailed contingency plans for a variety of events. A cross-functional team comprised of experts in food safety, health, supply chain, policy, retailer relationships and public relations is ready to implement these plans but needed an opportunity to train and practice together and to uncover opportunities for making the board’s crisis plans and response practices more robust.


Linhart PR developed and presented a half-day multi-phase crisis simulation for more than a dozen participants from multiple disciplines within the board, led by the public relations team. The purpose was to familiarize participants with the existing contingency plan and to learn to implement it effectively. The exercise required participants to react as a team in real time to escalating crisis scenarios, ranging from initial rumors to negative national coverage to adverse actions by retail partners to activist campaigns.


  • The exercise reinforced the role of the board’s public relations team as expert leaders of crisis planning and response, and affirmed the value of the contingency plan
  • For participants from key disciplines, the exercise was an eye-opening introduction to how this cross-functional team would need to collaborate in an actual crisis
  • Several vulnerabilities not addressed in the contingency plan, from tactical to strategic, were surfaced as a result of the exercise and assigned to team members to address
  • The importance of engaging and aligning with participants along the entire value chain, from producers to retailers, was underscored
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