Risk managers who are convinced their organization is prepared to withstand a blow to its reputation need only read the daily newspapers to be reminded of what can go wrong and the snowball effect the lack of a comprehensive crisis management plan can have on the outfit’s brand, value, employees and community standing.

A case-in-point is Duke University in North Carolina, now in the midst of a public relations nightmare because of its handling of a rape charge by an African-American exotic dancer against white members of the university’s lacrosse team. Sadly, the incident provides a perfect example of just about everything that can go wrong when an organization does not have a crisis plan in place, public relations experts warn.

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