But over a third suffered reputation threats last year

A third of companies are unprepared to deal with threats stemming from social media, according to a poll by Weber Shandwick and Spencer Stuart.

Thirty-four percent also suffered a reputation threat due to social media over the last year, according to the annual poll.

Yet with over 50 percent of companies identifying social-networking as tomorrow’s most valuable communication device, Spencer Stuart have warned that companies need to be prepared.

“Online threats to corporate reputation are escalating the social media imperative when it comes to the new skill sets and experiences required of today’s CCOs (chief corporate communications officers)” said George Jamison, head of Spencer Stuart’s Corporate Communications Officer department.

“Credible experience in this area has shifted from ‘nice to have’ to ‘must have’ for the most desirable corporate leadership roles.”

Social-networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook – that allow mass-communication without huge investment – have become increasingly influential in the business world in recent times.

Social media is expected to become the fastest growing function in communication departments over the next year, having increased from 28% in 2008 to 41% today.

Earlier this year, Coco Cola was forced to withdraw a Dr Pepper advertising campaign on Facebook after its allusions to pornographic movies drew complaints from parents.