This is a guest post by Peter LaMotte, the chief of digital engagement at Levick. Peter will present his free “Crush Crises Before They Spread” webinar on June 1o.

Is prevention of a crisis possible? Unfortunately, in today’s age of rapid information sharing, probably not.

It’s unlikely that you can do anything to avoid the instant virality of anything remotely salacious or damning to a company, its executives or its brand. Often times, we find ourselves more often the bullseye than the arrow.

But all is not lost. The ability for a company to not only manage and survive a crisis, but to thrive skillfully, all depends on its focus and planning prior to the onset of that crisis.

While prevention is not possible, preparation certainly is. I’m not talking about who you hire, or what lines of business your decide to chase down; I am focused solely on how you build and protect your brand during peacetime.

Deciding where you communicate, how you communicate, when you communicate, to whom you communicate and especially who does the communicating all set the foundation (be it sturdy or flimsy) of a reputation. Strong reputations are constructed by expert builders knowledgeable in message mediums, audience perceptions, timely communications, etc.

Global brands aren’t exclusively looking to sell more product when they engage in corporate social responsibility campaigns, they aren’t only concerned about your order when they deal with your customer service issue, and they aren’t merely looking to offer you coupons when they ask for your email address or request you follow them on Twitter.

There are numerous ways that you are constantly, and often unknowingly, enlisting in the advocacy army that one day may call upon you to either defend a brand or possibly attack another. Yet, the difficulty most brands face is finding a way to interact with you which builds your loyalty over time.

They’re looking to create champions not only for product loyalty but for the larger brand as a whole. Ideally, a brand is looking for you to purchase their product, recommend that product to others, and even, in the case of a crisis, defend that brand to your friends and family.

That is the communicator’s payoff for brand loyalty. An army of supporters. The ability for brand advocates to carry their messages in both good times and bad.

So, most importantly, how do you build this brand loyalty? There are five tenants that should guide your communications strategy. I will go into greater detail during my free Cision webinar on June 10, but the topics are as follows:

  1. Manage your communications: Who, What, Where and When
  2. Rely on content, not platforms
  3. Monitor constantly
  4. Engagement over Empathy
  5. Integrate your crisis plan

While these five cover a great deal of territory and should certainly be at the core of your plan, I will discuss a few more principles that should factor into your brand protection strategy at my webinar.

I will also cover the basics of how to deal with a crisis online and how to rebuild the brand after a crisis has damaged your reputation. With these key foundational blocks in your design, you can rest assured that your company will be prepared and cohesive should a crisis emerge.

Don’t crumble under crisis. Click here to join Peter on June 10 for his free webinar!

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