Any legitimate business must operate with risk. A business in a bubble does not exist.
I would analogize modern businesses to the “adventure playgrounds” (like the one in Berkley, California) where kids go to “build creatively” using “earth, fire, water and lots of creative material” (“Adventure Playground”, n.d.). At these playgrounds, kids use real saws, nails and hammers. There might even be a fire the kids have to work around! The philosophy here is that kids can’t fully develop without play that tolerates some level of risk. Aren’t businesses the same? If a business wants to be creative and reach its potential, it is going to have to take risks and tolerate some of the consequences associated with really going for it. Having a PR plan and trained professionals to help mitigate some of the hazards of the “play” is essential. Just like Mom is on standby with a first-aid kit, the PR team is likewise prepared (crisis response plan has been formulated, media training is in place, key leaders have had images built up, social media status has been reviewed, crisis simulations have been staged, key relationships have been strengthened, a “bull’s-eye” team is in place) for whatever public relations emergency that arise (Scudder, 2012).
In her TEDx Talk, Melissa Agnes reminds us that most crises are preventable. She pointed to Anthem’s security breach and how the crisis would have been different for Anthem had the company taken simple steps to protect stakeholders (like encrypted data, better security monitoring, etc.) (Agnes, 2015). Even if the crisis had not been prevented, at least Anthem would have a foundation of trust with stakeholders on which to rely during the crisis. In the social media realm, she cited an Altimeter Group report that concluded that 76% of social media crises are preventable (Agnes, 2015). The danger for social media crisis is that an issue can be so fragmented and amplified that it results in extreme reputation damage in a short amount of time for an organization. If an organization has a crisis management plan in place, however, the risk is significantly reduced.
Adventure Playground. (n.d.). City of Berkeley. Retrieved from http://www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/contentdisplay.aspx?id=8656
Agnes, M. (2015, May 7). The secret to successful crisis management in the 21stcentury- Melissa Agnes TEDx Talk. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VQGEPEaEWtg
Scudder, K. (2012, January 3). Be prepared: 10 steps to take now for crisis readiness. PRSA. Retrieved from http://www.prsa.org/Intelligence/Tactics/Articles/view/9530/1041/Be_prepared_10_steps_to_take_now_for_crisis_readin#.Vl5ZFLzWLzI