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Life can be unpredictable—personally or professionally. Planning for the unknown could help relieve some of the headache should the unthinkable occur.

Recently, a client came across a personal issue that became a public relations nightmare. The business enjoyed a solid reputation as a staple for families in the community. Overnight a situation arose that rocked the foundation of their brand they spent decades refining. As an active supporter of the community with a strong following, the brand had a lot to worry about.

Like many businesses, prior to the crisis, no one within their organization had foreseen the possibility of such events. Lack of planning left them vulnerable to the elements of the media and public opinion.

Here are some wonderful tips on crisis planning from Lauren Barton’s “Crisis in Organizations II”.

1. Prepare contingency plans in advance.
2. Immediately and clearly announce internally that the only persons to speak about the crisis to the outside world are members of the crisis team.
3. Move quickly. The first hours after the crisis breaks are extremely important. Reporters often build upon the information in the first hours.
4. Use crisis management consultants (advice by objectivity of PR consultants is important, bring in specialist corporate image expertise.)
5. Give accurate and correct information. Manipulating information will backfire internally and externally.
6. When deciding upon actions, consider not only the short-term losses, but also focus on the short-term effects.