If the past few years in business have shown us anything, it is that a crisis can come from almost anywhere and, more dangerously, can be created out of almost nothing. The speed at which information travels on the Internet means that the veracity of a crisis is almost immaterial. As life under COVID-19 has made absolutely clear for businesses, a controversy can be based on an actual problem or can simply be the result of a mistake or misunderstanding. In some cases, the issue may be a complete fiction, made up out of whole cloth. But in this moment, the public is looking for companies to do right by their employees and customers. And opinion-makers on the Internet are often hungry for controversy. Often mercurial, when they decide something about a person or a company, they often do so unpredictably, driven by emotion rather than factual circumstances. And these decisions are made so quickly that companies have almost no hope of addressing them in a timely manner.
A narrative amplified on the Internet, legitimate or not, can quickly become set in stone. Businesses are operating in an incredibly risky time, when a hard-won reputation can be lost overnight, and a bad or, even worse, slow response to a crisis can mean things get out of hand very quickly.
In 2020, companies have stumbled into crises of their own making, in particular, the multitude of firms that reacted poorly to the complications triggered by the coronavirus epidemic.