Online PR can be a vital tool in providing reassurance and information when a company is hit by the unexpected, an expert has said.

Adam Parker wrote on Fresh Business Thinking that online PR would have been a massive boost when his own IT company was hit by a fire seven years ago.

Customers, journalists and other external parties could have been updated on a daily or hourly basis via a company blog, which could have quickly established what services were operational, how the company could be contacted and its plans for relocation.

Meanwhile, social media such as Twitter would have provided a "live environment" for direct communication with clients, allowing the firm to deal with specific questions via BlackBerry.

Of course, only using online PR once a disaster has occurred will do little to help as the message will "fall on deaf ears".

"You need to already be doing these things in order for these tools to be of value to you in such circumstances," Mr Parker said.

According to a study by the Cabinet Office and the Chartered Management Institute, 52 per cent of UK businesses have plans in place to cope with unforeseen business disruption.

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