Crisis communication is without a doubt one of the most important functions of public relations. Every orgnisation and every brand (or public person) can at some point face a situation where the reputation that underpins the public trust and the positive relationship between them has been damaged or shaken. Such situations can result in potential loss of public support and legitimacy for governments and public institutions or financial loss for commercial organisations and brands, and even to threaten the very existence of these as public entities. In other words, a genuine crisis with sometimes dire consequences.
Because of the way societies work and because environmental or other types of disasters cannot always be foreseen, unexpected and disruptive events that create the public crises simply cannot be avoided. What can be done, however, is to prepare to the best possible extent to contain and manage such crises to minimise the damage, alleviate the risks involved and ensure the situation is kept under control. In terms of PR, crisis management is a discipline and skill in and of itself due to the uniqueness of each context and situation, from the particularities of an industry to cultural sensibilities, societal standards, dynamics and trends.