The Web is littered with examples of the public decrying corporate missteps. “You didn’t protect my baby.” “Why does your drink contain carcinogens?” “You’re denying cancer patients a life-saving drug!” Imagine these words loading one after another on your organization’s Facebook page or Twitter feed until the voice of your channel has suddenly disappeared and is flooded with hundreds of negative messages. This is exactly the situation that many of the world’s biggest brands have found themselves facing. As social media affords organizations more direct access to consumers, it also enables easier confrontation from people seeking change.

All too often, a PR crisis must arise before a preemptive plan hits home within an organization. Yet, by that time, the window for effective engagement may already have closed. This is important because how a company behaves in a crisis often outlives memory of the crisis itself. Activism can profoundly impact operations and reputation. In extreme cases, it even challenges the license for established enterprises to do business. Further, social media issues can translate into real-world business losses when they negatively influence people's intent to buy, the valuation of a company’s stock or the future of valued commercial or industry relationships.