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According to a Forbes article, scandal, crisis, fake news — oh my! In today’s “always on” newsroom and social media-esque kind of world, if your company doesn’t have a reputation management plan in place, you are walking down a risky line of potentially hurting your business, no matter if you are a small shop or a global enterprise. If the rise of citizen journalism and the ability to reach millions, if not billions, in one given second doesn’t scare you, I don’t know what will.

Here are the steps you need to take to get started:

• Monitor to protect your brand. Establish a dedicated team to monitor a pre-selected group of blogs, social media platforms and news media sources through not only manual search but also news monitoring services like Meltwater to record information, organize data and report findings. This information can be qualified as business intelligence that, when used wisely, can manage risk and impact business operations, decisions and marketing efforts.

• Conduct a risk mapping exercise. This is the most critical part of reputation management and can often be overlooked. During this phase, explore potential risk scenarios, and outline their probabilities of taking place. Work to categorize the event by the level of severity, identify and confirm key audiences, discuss timing, develop contact sheets and think through logistics of details like meeting places and/or virtual conference lines.

• Identify your crisis team. This should take place well in advance of any crisis event unfolding. Key players should include a team leader, a spokesperson, a communications coordinator, a secretary, consultants (agency communications partners), board of directors, executives and general counsel.

• Develop a messaging framework. And have this framework prepared prior to a potential crisis event. Not sure where to start? Engage your communications team or public relations (PR) agency. Train yourself to expect the unexpected, and start to think through proactive and reactive responses. Don’t forget to identify communications vehicles where you will plan to disseminate your messaging. Consider possible trigger events that were identified in the risk mapping exercise, and build out suggested messaging so you already have a starting point.

• Manage the crisis! If a crisis does unfold, it’s important to address the concerns and fears of those who are impacted. This can be uncovered through heightened monitoring of news and social media chatter to gain perspective on the thoughts and opinions of your audiences specific to the crisis at hand. Protect your brand by creating content for the masses, but customize it according to specific key audiences and communications vehicles you’ve identified. If you messed up, admit fault, demonstrate how you are going to remedy it and stay committed to actually fixing the situation.

Preparing for a crisis is not easy. But in the event that an unfortunate circumstance happens, you’ll be grateful that you have thought ahead. And trust me: It’s not as intimidating as you might think. The digital revolution matched with our hyper-transparent social media culture (which so happens to move at lightning speed), has enabled anyone to call your bluff at any given time.

That’s not to say that everyone is an internet troll and out there to hurt your brand. During extreme cases of risk management and crisis, you will learn that there will be some people that a company just can’t win over. But that shouldn’t deter your brand from working to control the message during times of controversy and owning up to a mistake if you truly are at fault.

Once you go through these steps during a crisis, work to resume normal operations as soon as possible. And before you know it, you’ll be channeling your inner Olivia Pope, saying “Consider it handled.”