It doesn’t matter how hard you work, or how much time you put into business planning, as the old saying goes, if it can go wrong, it will go wrong. And it will be the one thing you didn’t anticipate that catches you out.

There was plenty of media coverage in April about the cancellation of the Sheffield half-marathon. Whatever the final verdict of the investigations, the cancellation meant the small group of volunteers who gave their time to organise the event have had to spend their time dealing with the PR fallout from the event rather than fundraising for charity.

It should have been a fun day for all concerned, raising money for good causes and yet it all went horribly wrong. So what lessons can small businesses draw from this?

Event cancellation cover is an important consideration for any event where there are substantial direct and/or indirect costs involved. This isn’t just the case for charities, but also for businesses.

If you organise a conference and, at short notice for unavoidable reasons (such as a fire), the venue is no longer available, not only may you not recover the direct costs incurred from the venue, there are all the indirect costs such as travel or external accommodation. These can be substantial and are usually non-refundable.

Charity trustees should also consider trustees liability cover. Like company directors, charity trustees carry unlimited liability for their fiduciary duties. If they make a mistake, a claim may be brought against them personally – and could cost them personally, for example forcing them to sell their home.

Any organisation, whether a business or a charity, needs to consider what they would do if a claim was brought against them for something they were alleged to have done and the media subsequently decided to run the story.

In such circumstances a crisis containment policy can make a real difference, helping to ensure the media gets the facts and to manage the story. This can be vital to the ongoing reputation and credibility of that organisation. Does your business have the time and resources to manage your reputation in the media if a problem arose?

As for the Sheffield half-marathon, there is some good news. Suppliers Water Direct have offered to provide the water for the Sheffield half-marathon free-of-charge next year as a gesture of goodwill.  Let’s hope 2015’s race is a lot smoother for the organisers than this year.