I came across an article in Global PR Blog Week 2.0 that discusses the issues surrounding crisis management and how the blogosphere can work for or against you during these times of crisis. It’s amazing to relate these two, as Global PR Blog Week gives crisis examples such as the Tylenol’s scare and FEMA’s involvement with Hurricane Katrina. It’s interest and remotely scary to think that national issues that hugely impact our country can be driven in certain directions from the blogosphere. Another thing i’d like to point out is that this article was written in 2005! Three years ago, this blogger was making these points, and since then I can only imagine how many more people have joined the blogosphere. It makes you think that as a college student, I sit at my computer, and on a weekly basis, document my thoughts and write about issues that interest me. But then I think, “Do I really have the vocal power to influence behavior, on a national or even international level just through my blog?” Crisis communications is a fascinating topic, because its ever changing. We need those working by the seat of your pants, ready for action, don’t think twice kinds of folks to work pro-actively and in several situations, re-actively, to better our country.
In the Global PR blog, the author quotes Bill Maher who suggests when and how to handle blogs in the midst of crisis communications:
Maher says that the blogosphere expands the terrain of crisis communications by adding size, complexity, and speed. Maher continues to say that upon expansion, mass media tends to shrink the distance, or “shrink the world” between every person. No national event can occur, without someone blogging about the issue within minutes. Maher’s lesson is to never underestimate the ability of the least traditionally blogger that can change your world and your issues. Maher’s next claim is that the blogosphere has a permanent archive, with a far longer life-span than traditional media, and big mistakes are unforgettable. In simple terminology, never makes mistakes or write something that you potentially know could work against you. When using the internet, nothing is deleted or erased. The blogosphere is the world’s largest form of interactive media and has become one of the most influential.
An example Maher provides is the Breaking of the Kryptonite Lock and Ballpoint Pen,
where bloggers combated Kryptonite’s slogan by breaking into a bicycle lock with a ballpoint pen. This blog post circulated throughout the blogosphere until the company decided upon a massive recall that cost the company more than half its revenues for the year. Years later, even if Kryptonite were to fix and properly handle all its mistakes, all it would take is someone to enter “Kryptonite break-in case” into Google, and more than 50,000 listings appear re-telling the controversy.
As you can see, crisis communications is a very exciting public relations practice. With the help of the blogosphere however, it can be extremely frightening, if not completely costly. If you are representing a client and are an active blogger, use your common sense and remember that everything you write is archived and can be later used against you. If you’re involved in crisis communications, respond quickly….Especially if you’re active in blogging. Don’t underestimate the blogosphere, because it only takes one blogger to realize you’re involved in a crisis and have not been truthful to the public.