Mario Sundar

LinkedIn's 2nd PR hire. These are my thoughts on products, public relations, and startups.

Update: Blogs as Crisis Management Tools

Quick Update: I know that RocketBoom viewers have been eagerly awaiting its re-launch, which hasn’t happened till now. Andy knows that a lot is running on this re-opening video but postponing the video launch twice already isn’t helping their brand image in any small measure. Actually, Valleywag has an interesting tidbit on how they feel Rocketboom’s re-launch may have died on the vines. Similar posts heralding the demise of Rocketboom here and there.

For more history, read on…

I’d been planning this post ever since the Rocket Boom fiasco rocked the blogosphere and from there on went to traditional media outlets such as New York Times and CNN.

I also know that many of my fellow-bloggers have covered the same topic here, and there. For those of you living under a rock and don’t know what the furore is all about, here’s a summary (via CNN):

In less than two years as the quirky, goofy-but-gorgeous host of a low-tech, three-minute fake newscast, Congdon, who left Rocketboom this week in a dispute with her partner, achieved a kind of fame unique to this Internet age.

To conclude, here’s a video clip of Amanda Congdon declaring she’s been “fired”. And here’s her partner Andrew Baron’s rather long-winded, yet interesting rebuttal (via Jason’s blog).

Anyway, of all the posts I’ve read, the most recent posting from Jason Calacanis is probably the most objective and gives a two-sided view of all developments. I know that yesterday, today, or whenever, is Rocketboom’s re-launch, but I thought it may be appropriate for me to post a few ideas I’d scribbled regarding how weblogs can be great PR tools in crisis management.

Here’s how a weblog can be a great PR tool in moments of crisis (esp. for CEOs):

1. Stay in touch w/ community:

Well, seems like we’re back to square one. All the answers revolve around community, don’t they? Of course! It’s essential for the leader of a company to have his/her own communication channel open to the larger public at all times, since this’d open the door for a conversation during moments of a crisis. Imagine if Andrew Baron had such a channel even before the crisis struck, he could have depended on the blog to get his message across. And most importantly, it demonstrates your genuineness in wanting to stay in touch.

2. Be the first:

It was mighty savvy on Amanda’s part to release the “I’m Fired” post before Andrew could even realize he’d been punked! Firing the first salvo is always the best response! What it does is provides you the “moral high-ground”. What can I say, that’s how psych works? Her starting a blog to do that was equally smart, because it provides a way to rally your base, which actually further cements the high-ground you’ve placed yourself in.

3. Responses must be swift and targeted:

Anyone, care to remember the swift boat crisis that did John Kerry in during the Presidential elections 04. One of the major reasons for the ads’ effectiveness was that Kerry’s rebuttal was rather slow in coming. Too bad! Kerry paid a heavy price for it during the elections. Likewise, in all crisis situations, respond swiftly and immediately. Amanda did a great job with a swift “For the record” rebuttal, which surely would have further strengthened her position. Not doing so could irreparably damage your brand.

I understand that the above rules will work irrespective of who is right/wrong, but at the end of the day, it’s all about Honesty! Because nothing will harm your brand more than the realization (later or sooner) that your PR machinery was touting untruths.

Disclaimer: I don’t know either of the two parties concerned and I’m absolutely clueless as to where the truth lies. This is an objective third-party view.

Filed under: Social PR

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