Submitted by: Tim Spreitzer, Executive Vice President and Issues Management Practice Director, Tierney @hellotierney

A report from The Economist found that organizations today have an estimated 82 percent chance of facing a crisis in any five-year period, up 20 percent from two decades ago. Today, a crisis can happen at any time and on any platform. However, many organizations who experience an issue do not have the resources available to assess and respond in a manner that can preserve their reputation among their most important stakeholders – one of the most critical assets to a brand.

For instance, when it comes to responding to crises, a speedy, forthright response can mean the difference between success and failure. Through our decades of experience providing strategic counsel on some of the most sensitive issues ranging from environmental disasters to labor unrest, health care tragedies to mergers & acquisitions, we’ve seen it is critical to be prepared.

For many brands, it is difficult to find time to prepare while also managing the day-to-day aspects the company is responsible. By taking action today and employing these four tips, a brand can be ready to respond to an organizational crisis in a moment’s notice.

Monitor. By staying on top of social media, companies will be aware of trending issues that might impact the organization or the way it is viewed by its stakeholders.

Develop a plan. While it may seem daunting to put together a plan that responds to the various issues that could impact an organization, taking the time to do so can make a significant difference. Often we will say it is better to be prepared and to never use a plan than to be caught without one in the first place!

Test and evolve. Once a plan is in place, it is time to test it. By evaluating the plan on a consistent basis, companies can ensure it meets the needs as specific issues develop and evolve.

Engage a Partner. Given the limited bandwidth, many companies find it useful to engage a partner who can bring an outside perspective to solve challenges. Brands should look for partners who can collaborate on messaging, manage the spotlight during difficult situations and help avoid future crises from occurring in the future.

Brands often spend significant time and resources dedicated to building their reputation. One issue can dramatically impact this work – which is why it is critical to make crisis planning a part of your organization’s plan moving forward.