Thursday, January 27, 2005

Using blogs in a crisis

The middle of a crisis is probably the last time you’re going to think of using blogs as a way of communicating - but there’s an interesting article on Fast Company that might be worth reading and mentally filing about they could be used in the midst of a PR crisis.
The standard approach to responding to a crisis is to hunker down behind closed doors. Blogs can help companies remain accessible.

But rather than waiting for a crisis to hit, a more intelligent approach would be to use of blogs to communicate about day-to-day service issues - after which they would become the natural response to a crisis situation.

A good example of this is the UK-based ISP PlusNet - they have a blog and RSS feed that they use to update customers on what’s going on with their network and service. Not only does it allow them to communicate proactively about what’s going to happen - maintenance downtime, for example - but also allows them a way of keeping customers informed about major problems as and when they arise.

And of course, this isn’t just restricted to the public face of the company. If you’re running a service function within an organisation - and if you’re not serving someone, perhaps you need to question whether you’ve got your priorities straight! - why not use an internal blog to keep your internal customers in the picture? Not only are you easing the information flows within your organisation, over time you’ll also buld a much higher profile within the business - particularly important if you want to promote your function as one that adds value rather than costs.

It boils down to a maxim given to me by an older, wiser colleague early on in my project management career - “a good project is one with no surprises”. Keep people informed, and you can get away with much more!

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