We ended the business year off with two major corporate crises with two fairly well known brands witnessing significant drops in their share price. While we all watched in morbid fascination, I did sit back and wonder why one of these particular companies had not invested more actively in their brand equity and built more meaningful relationships with the media? At a time like this, if they had done it, the crisis would have been easier to handle, using and leveraging relationships rather than running for cover, ignoring media and doing very little to instill any kind of trust with key stakeholders. I guess the latter is exactly the issue, the media are not always recognised, respected or deemed a stakeholder in corporate communications by some brands. While the going is good, you can possibly rely on strong financial results to boost awareness, but even then that’s only twice a year. When the proverbial hits the fan, your bi-annual media push will never be enough to save you. I write this because despite the very prominent examples, companies are still failing to recognise the importance of PR in the process of dealing with the media. I’ve written quite a lot about the power of PR, reasons why you need it, why you should never cancel it- just visit www.ginjaninjapr.co.za, but when budgets are done or strategies are set, too many companies under-estimate the value and power of external communication. Let 2018 be the year that you recognise the importance of the media conversation, the necessity to consistently communicate and the vital need for you to build lasting and impactful media relationships. Please realise that social media is not the priority, it is simply a tool of PR. You need a strategy, you need a story, you need a plan, you need to shape perceptions, influence people and educate them. Commit to your responsibility to your stakeholders, talk to them, build something meaningful. It can only positively build your brand and if your share price ever tanks, these people will not entirely berate you because you would have seen it coming, explained the story and prepared them for the fall. They would support you and report fairly, accurately and within context.