Crisis managers prefer to operate within established protocols, rules, laws and beliefs. Therefore, it’s not surprising these have already been established in the nascent area of 2.0 crises – those that erupt online. However, the online networking space is changing so fast it’s prudent if we didn’t etch our beliefs in stone just yet.
This is the underpinning of my article in the current issue (Winter 2010) of The Public Relations Strategist, one of the official publications of PRSA. My intent is not to be contrarian, but rather to be more complete. The full article is available through the link above, and a PDF copy is also available here — “Sudden Impact: An analysis of five commonly held beliefs about crises that erupt online” — and also in the Articles and Links section of this Web site.
In case you want the Cliffs Notes summary:
- Hopefully, we’re advancing the conversation from “should we” to “how do we best prepare for online threats?”
- Speed is important to manage crises that erupt online, but not at the expense of misdiagnosing the extent and depth of the reputational threats.
- Some online social networks are great listening posts for corporate reputation. Some, frankly, aren’t. Segmentation of audiences will help prioritize the efforts to engage.
- Finding an “authentic voice” is best done when that voice also has authentic experience.
- Addressing your crisis with online stakeholders may require an ongoing dialogue. Maybe not. It depends…and the right questions will lead companies to the right decisions.
If these points strike a chord with you I encourage you to read the entire article, then share your thoughts/challenges in the comments below. Also consider giving this a “Digg” through the Share/Save button to help me drive more constructive crisis management dialogue to this blog. Thanks!
Oct. 25 update: In this post, Kim Stevens does a very good job of listing lessons for emergency managers’ use of social media.