Editor's note: The following opinion article is the first in a three-part series by guest columnist Richard S. Levick, the president and CEO of Levick Strategic Communications, the world's largest crisis communications firm. Levick is the co-author of 'Stop the Presses: The Crisis & Litigation PR Desk Reference' and writes for bulletproofblog.com. Click here to read Part 2 and here to read Part 3. He welcomes your comments here.On the morning of Monday, Sept. 8, 2008, executives at United Airlines, a unit of UAL ( UAUA), began their week like any other. Two years had passed since they successfully brought one of America's most storied airlines back from bankruptcy. More than 3,200 flights to 200 global destinations were scheduled for the day, and United's 55,000 employees were on the job. As the opening bell sounded on Wall Street, shares of UAL were trading at a steady $12 per share. Within hours, however, the company's entire future was at risk. UAL shares plummeted so fast that authorities suspended trading in them as investigators tried to understand what was happening to this purported "safe bet." By day's end, Corporate America would learn a valuable lesson about how the online revolution can dramatically affect any brand, product, or company in only a matter of minutes.