The New York Times analysis of “What Not to Do" in a public relations crisis reinforces the view of PR expert as a reputational firefighter. You call one in once you're already in flames.

It's a shame that this extensive story didn't include PR leaders who spoke to the deeper, underlying issues when companies are embroiled in self-inflicted crises -- too often the problem is a manifestation of the company's actual behavior, actual mindset, actual culture. The role of the communications professional is to help the company with that vital work.

This strategic management view of the role of corporate communications, as explored in the Page Society's white paper, the Authentic Enterprise, envisions corporate communicators helping the enterprise create a coherent mission, strategy, business model and values-based culture.

The result should be a) fewer crises, and b) when a crisis does occur, a clear sense both inside and outside of how the crisis is inconsistent with the authentic reality of the enterprise. Addressing it quickly and forthrightly is immensely easier when that is deeply understood and genuinely embraced by everyone in the company.