PR crises are tough. They’re stressful, scary, frustrating and sometimes exhausting. If you’re at the center of one, it can also feel personal. Someone out there is trying to inflict damage on your organization or, worse yet, on you and your family. Emotion are high, which can make it difficult to step back, assess the situation and make sound, strategic and thoughtful decisions about how to act and communicate in the fog of a crisis.

This is where outside PR counsel comes in. Not only do seasoned crisis communicators do this all the time, they are usually not personally entangled and can often offer an objective perspective not clouded by fear, anger and other emotions that can skew your judgement. They can also serve as great sounding boards.  They can be objective listeners who hear your story with skepticism — much like your audience will – and help you develop compelling messages and strategies to navigate the problem.

Good PR pros will also have valuable connections in the community and within the media that they can sometimes leverage to the benefit of their clients. Perhaps sharing your side of the story directly with community leaders and elected officials can turn potential adversaries into allies. Similarly, a credible PR professional might use their relationships with editorial boards, assignment editors and individual reporters to give you a fair hearing you might not otherwise receive.

Finally, they can draw upon their experience – based on what they have seen work and not work in similar situations – to give you the type of counsel you might not receive from your key internal advisors or even by relying on your own gut instincts. Not all crises require outside counsel, but for those that are potentially impactful on your reputation in the market, there is no substitute.