No company wants to be in crisis. But crisis, much like its cousin backlash, can be unpredictable. Living in a time where a single tweet or blog post can set an entire corporation scrambling, it is crucial that every business has a crisis management plan. Here are a few reasons why:

Crisis can strike at any time. If your company has a major fallout during its off hours – say, Friday around 5:15 – you may not even know something terrible has happened until Monday morning, and you don’t want to be unprepared and trying to address something that has had days to build while you were sipping a Bloody Mary on the coast. In the midst of the eighties, a journalist called Johnson & Johnson seeking comment on the Tylenol Murders only to find that the corporation had no idea what he was talking about. There are times when the press will know about your crisis before you do – having a plan already in place is key to avoid fumbling that first key contact with the media.

If you have a plan for moments of crisis, you will be able to respond to crisis in a way that is in line with your business’ reputation and goals. Without a plan, there is a real possibility that an unprepared, reluctant spokesperson will misrepresent the company’s response. Moments of crisis are incredibly stressful, and decisions that are made rapidly under increasingly insurmountable pressure are more likely to cast a poor light on you and your business.

Your integrity, as a business operating in a socially responsible world, is one of your most valuable intangible assets. Without integrity, your words are untrustworthy, your values are doubted, and your reputation flounders. When a plan includes a focus on maintaining reputation through integrity and honesty, it can minimize the damage done by a crisis.

Without a crisis management plan, you are significantly more likely to damage your reputation further through your own actions. Managing crises is a constant, evolving process, but it is a process that you can be prepared for with the proper tools. Crises are unpredictable, but they don’t have to be unexpected.

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April 1, 2013

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