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Online Crisis Management

How do you use your web site newsroom to handle a major crisis?

As part of your crisis communication planning, you must acknowledge that one day someone may use the internet to create a problem for your company or organization. Often, a small problem can escalate into a PR nightmare if your organization looks weak or bullheaded in response to the “crisis.”

Your junior staff will not be in a position to handle these crises, so senior public relations counsel should be immediately engaged. However, by using a generic e-address such as news@yourfirm.com, messages can be easily reported to the assigned senior professional agency handling the crisis by your junior staff.

Entire crisis web sites are created by some companies. Others design a direct link on their homepage. Our advice is not to bury “the crisis” but rather make it easy for reporters and others to read your side of the story.

Remember, every crisis has a victim, a villain and a vindicator. Your role needs to be identified early in the process, and you must stand up to honest criticism. On the other hand, you need to refute unabashedly the misconceptions about your organization that need to be refuted– placing guilt on the true villain, if there is one.

Make sure that your online crisis presence must also make routine information available–photographs of senior management, biographical sketches, your news releases relating to the crisis, frequently asked questions and the like.

The more detailed online information about your organization’s crisis the better. The easier the information is to find the better. E-Crises are no fun, but the effort you take to tell the truth –the whole truth– and your side of the story will serve you well indeed. Finally, be sure to act quickly.

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