Blogging for Crisis Management

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    Not just a branding tool

    Your company’s blog is one of its most valuable assets, serving as a tool for marketing, customer service, and, of most interest to us here, crisis management. With some forethought, your blog can become the focal point for information distribution in times of crisis, getting the story you want to the media and keeping both employees and stakeholders informed 24/7, even when nobody’s in the office.

    In a recent Ragan.com article, Jeff Domansky gave an excellent list of ways to make the best use of your blog during a crisis, here are a couple of my favorites:

    Updates

    Quick, timely updates through your blog can be invaluable in keeping employees, customers, regulators, fire and safety officials, the media and the public informed of developments. Remember, your updates can be very brief and factual. It’s important to show that even if you have not yet resolved the crisis, you’re working to solve it.

    BP attempted to use a blog for Gulf of Mexico oil spill cleanup updates, but it received pointed criticism for its attempts to paint the recovery unrealistically. BP has since shuttered this blog and removed the posts, demonstrating how transparent and objective you must be for success.

    Media relations

    It may be difficult to reach media outlets in the heat of a crisis. Your blog can provide essential media information as well as links to press releases, fact sheets, FAQs, photos, video and everything else reporters might need if they can’t reach a spokesperson. Make sure to provide your blog address and 24-hour phone contacts.

    Craigslist founder Craig Newmark’s blog, craigconnects, has a simple press page that works well.

    Blogs are incredibly flexible communications platforms and, especially since the explosion in popularity of social media, very easy to promote. For low-cost campaigns, simply create social media accounts and echo or link to blog postings while responding to any stakeholder questions or comments. Do that regularly and you will have the base on which to build your crisis management effort on when the need arises.

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    For more resources, see the Free Management Library topic: Crisis Management
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    [Jonathan Bernstein is president of Bernstein Crisis Management, Inc. , an international crisis management consultancy, and author of Keeping the Wolves at Bay – Media Training.]