It's Crucial to Get Your Crisis Moments Untangled Online; with the Tide of Bad-News Business Stories Seemingly Never-Ending, Jonathan Hemus, Director of Birmingham Based Reputation Management and Crisis Communications Specialists Insignia, Explains Why Now Is the Time for Digital Agencies and PR Consultancies to Focus on Online Crisis Management. CREATIVE

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Byline: Jonathan Hemus

Every morning, my radio alarm goes off at 6.59am and a new tale of business woe is on the 7amnews - the names are changed, but the story's the same.

Consequently, there's a real temptation to press the off switch, give in to the tide of gloomy commentators telling us that there's no point trying to do business this year and settle for a duvet day.

But the reality is that there is business to be done and in this economic environment, there is in fact one area of urgent need: crisis management and in particular, online crisis management.

With businesses see mingly disappearing at the blink of aneye, prudent executives know that a robust approach to reputation protection is essential.

So for those digital agencies and PR consultancies suffering a dip in revenue from brand-building or promotional activity, it's the right time to develop services designed to help protect Midlands' businesses through the downturn.

Doing so not only brings in much needed revenue, but it also provides an extra layer of protection for clients whose businesses may be more vulnerable today than ever before.

Crises do not have to destroy an organisation: research by Oxford Metrica shows that it is not the fact of a crisis that damages a business (indeed, they even demonstrate that some businesses appreciate in value following a crisis).

What really counts is how the organization meets the challenge thrown down by the crisis: taking control quickly, showing compassion and acting to put things right should mean the organisation is likely to prosper.

Dither, hide or give the impression of not caring and tough - or even terminal - challenges may lie ahead. Midlands' agencies have the expertise to help their clients avoid this fate using the latest online tools and expertise.

A good starting place is an online monitoring service. We all know that a crisis prevented is cheaper and much less painful than a crisis handled, so we need to provide our clients with the tools to constantly review what's being said about the mon-line.

This begins with the basics - Google alerts and subscriptions to websites like News now - to identify news stories that may affect clients.

A more thorough approach also involves keeping an eye on key blogs, message boards and chatrooms. Of course, these nuggets of information need to be presented to clients in a timely, clear format so that they have the opportunity to take control of the issue, rather than the issue taking control of them.

Even the big boys can find themselves apparently chasing their tails. Just recently, Sky announced a recall of its Pace HD box but not before many online forums had been chatting about it for days beforeh and. …