The survey, running since 2009, interviewed 426 decision makers of large and medium business in the EMEA region across 20 sectors, including finance, retail and technology, to arrive at its findings, which PRWeek has analysed in full in this separate feature.
Almost three quarters of respondents had seen "new market entrants or innovative models which could threaten their business" in the last three years while a fifth said they had experienced a crisis related to a new or innovative business model in the last year.
This type of crisis has moved from second place in last year’s survey to becoming the uppermost concern for business leaders, with 12 per cent of respondents choosing this category above all others.
Controversial company developments such as redundancies, were the second highest area of concern, followed by digital or online security failure and negative social media campaigns.
The top six sources of crisis were rounded out with logistical difficulties and 'intense political scrutiny'. Respondents regard political scrutiny as both the source and an amplifier of a crisis.
A quarter of respondents had encountered a crisis resulting from intense regulatory or political scrutiny and, once in a crisis, governments and regulators were the most feared participants.
Overall, the survey found that the risk of crisis was at its highest since 2009, with 49 per cent of respondents having experienced a crisis at their current company.
A fifth of respondents said the crisis they had experienced was the result of an online or digital security failure. But businesses are increasingly alive to the threat of digital challenges and almost half now have a digital crisis comms plan, an increase of 10 per cent over the 2013 survey.
Jeremy Galbraith, Burson-Marsteller’s chief executive, EMEA, said: "Communicators need to remember the four Ps: purpose; plan; predict; pioneer. Purpose should guide business. Plan how to handle a crisis in 'peacetime'. Predict and monitor the trends in your market. Pioneer by being innovative and bold."
- For more on Burson-Marsteller’s 2015 Crisis Survey, read PRWeek’s analysis: What to do when the disruptor brand comes knocking at your door.