Those familiar with the world of motorbikes know that “biting the asphalt” is rather a question of when and how you will fall off the motorcycle – and definitely not one of likelihood. The year 2014 taught us that in the case of communication crises it is rather about time, scope and impact than of probability. In this context, in addition to the crisis manual, the procedures, training sessions, and simulations of various scenarios (which we all have and, let’s face it, usually keep in the drawer), simply anticipating threats, monitoring them and actually training the members of the crisis cell, as well as collaborating with one’s communication consultant become as ingrained a process as washing one’s face in the morning.

Organizations live today, in comparison to a decade or two ago, with an infinitely greater number of threats over their heads. And more. Regardless of whether we talk about the mistakes companies have always been making, about their increasingly tense relationship with their employees, about the economic, political and criminal context in a deeply corrupt Romania, with a maximum contamination potential, or about the voice of the street, which has regained its strength after so many years, what really makes all these threats different now in comparison to the relatively recent history is the tremendous speed at which information moves.

Most crises over the last year have unfolded more or less following the same pattern: someone posted on a social networking site a piece of information that was then propagated, amplified, dissected, analysed and re-cast in another key whenever it was needed. Not too long ago that someone was, more often than not, a person inside the organization, a journalist or an activist. Today that source can be anyone with a social media account who, at a certain time, got to be displeased with something. Unlike in the past years, once that information is out it has all the chances to go viral, since from the very beginning it has all the ingredients required by an editor. It is no longer just an information leak, but also a true fact, affecting a real person like the rest of us – which explains the high interest it raises. It also has pictures, often video footage, and comes with a whole host of other testimonials in the shape of comments by the harmed person’s friends.

In the real life, and even in the virtual one, things are as follows: you wake up in the morning and perhaps you have your coffee, or tea, or not, maybe you get to go to the bathroom, or not, but surely you turn on your phone directly to Facebook. And from there information rushes out about everything that is around us and concerns us: water quality, power failures, neighbourhoods left with no heating, food additives, malpractice, predatory loans, exploding currency rates, pollution, exploration, extraction, etc.

Crises have thus gained a human, natural, dimension, and a 24/7 temporality, like real life. Under such circumstances, prevention cannot still be done “by-the-book”.