It’s treacherous out on the campaign trail. There are potential problems at every turn. Any candidate that hopes to be successful must be prepared, anticipate where some of the dangers lie, avoid as many of them as possible, and be able to deal with the crises that do occur as quickly and efficiently as possible without losing face or momentum. In order to do this a candidate needs a committed crisis intervention team, clear lines of communication, and a plan of action. If a candidate fails to set aside the resources and have a team in place to do this, their chances for success are greatly diminished.

The same thing is true in business. No matter how good your product or service is, inevitably problems will arise. Companies with a good crisis intervention team will be able to survive those bumps in the road with minimal damage to their image, reputation, and bottom line. Companies that do not prepare themselves to handle problems can be ruined if one or to even minor ones develop. The key is preparation for crisis management and that entails putting together a good team, developing an action plan, being vigilant and proactive, and maintaining established lines of communications within the company.

Like candidates running for elected office, every business needs a legal team. This should be made up of good attorneys and support staff. This team is charged with reading all releases from the candidate or company to ensure the communications do not contain anything that could become a liability or put them on shaky legal ground. The legal team must also make sure all products, services, or campaign activities are thoroughly vetted to ensure they are on solid ground legally. Taking the time to do this can often prevent a whole host of problems from ever developing.

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The legal team must also be ready to spring into action at a moment’s notice. They must be able to quickly assess the threat and identify their legal options for quashing it. Often quick action by a candidate’s or company’s legal team can eliminate a problem before it ever poses a serious threat. Many times, simply the threat of legal action is enough to quell a potential problem. Other times, a well prepared legal team can contact the complainant and reach some type of legal settlement before the complain or dispute attracts public attention and begins to do serious damage.

Political Crisis Management

Another part of the crisis intervention team is an effective public relations staff. A good public relations team is often able to get out in front of a potential problem, put out the appropriate message, and even spin the incident to their advantage. This takes experienced, innovative individuals with a good understanding of the use of various mediums and the ability to craft a persuasive message. This public relations staff must also be able to quickly communicate to the candidate or business’ entire crisis team so everyone can understand the message begin projected and stay on it.

Sometimes the role of the public relations staff is to promote a series of positive actions taken by the candidate or company that will overshadow the potentially negative press and drown out the noise. In order for this to be effective, the candidate or company must make a series of goodwill gestures before, during, and after the crisis. An expert PR team will be able to suggest a series of specific actions that can be taken to regain the public’s trust, affection, and positive attention while the legal team addresses the threat. That’s why clear and continual communications among all member of the crisis intervention team is vital.

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Not all issues can be dealt with using legal action and public relations smokescreens. Sometimes the best course of action is to admit an error was made and take clear, decisive action to remediate the problem. Many people admire that a great deal in a candidate or company and may earn their respect and loyalty if the error wasn’t too grievous. After acknowledging problems, however, the remediation must be large, very public, and immediate. A good example is the corporate response to the Exxon Valdez environmental disaster or BP’s Gulf Coast disaster. While the damage was serious, the companies’ response was swift, large, and trumpeted on radio, television, and print media.

Dealing with crises is a normal part of life for political candidates and businesses. The way they’re handled decides the success or failure of the candidate, brand, or business. It’s essential to have a crisis intervention team and a plan in place for dealing with problems that may arise. Clear and constant communication among the people involved in the crisis intervention process is also crucial. Working together your crisis intervention team can help your candidate, brand, or business overcome any crisis.

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Ronn Torossian is the Founder & Chairman of 5W Public Relations, one of the largest independently owned PR firms in the United States. Since founding 5WPR in 2003, he has led the company's growth and vision, with the agency earning accolades including being named a Top 50 Global PR Agency by PRovoke Media, a top three NYC PR agency by O'Dwyers, one of Inc. Magazine's Best Workplaces and being awarded multiple American Business Awards, including a Stevie Award for PR Agency of the Year. With over 25 years of experience crafting and executing powerful narratives, Torossian is one of America's most prolific and well-respected public relations executives. Throughout his career he has advised leading and high-growth businesses, organizations, leaders and boards across corporate, technology and consumer industries. Torossian is known as one of the country's foremost experts on crisis communications. He has lectured on crisis PR at Harvard Business School, appears regularly in the media and has authored two editions of his book, "For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results With Game-Changing Public Relations," which is an industry best-seller. Torossian's strategic, resourceful approach has been recognized with numerous awards including being named the Stevie American Business Awards Entrepreneur of the Year, the American Business Awards PR Executive of the Year, twice over, an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year semi-finalist, a Top Crisis Communications Professional by Business Insider, Metropolitan Magazine's Most Influential New Yorker, and a recipient of Crain's New York Most Notable in Marketing & PR. Outside of 5W, Torossian serves as a business advisor to and investor in multiple early stage businesses across the media, B2B and B2C landscape. Torossian is the proud father of two daughters. He is an active member of the Young Presidents Organization (YPO) and a board member of multiple not for profit organizations.