My colleagues Ian Barr, Darren Leroux and I participated in a conference last week on blogging and corporate communications. I see that Ian beat me to the punch in posting about one of the panels he attended. The session I sat in on about "managing crises in the blogosphere", brought to light some interesting stuff for any company which finds itself the target of a blog assault. (As an aside, there was agreement in the room that 'blogosphere' is a ridiculous word and should be excised from the online lexicon.) I took away a singular set of ideas (thanks in large measure to Christopher Barger from IBM's corporate communications group whose blog, ironically, I can't find!) which can help guide strategy for managing an aggressive blogger.
The conversation taking place today in the blogosphere -- there's that awful word again -- is individual, with a character and language all its own. Blogs by their nature are personal and passionate. More important for managing corporate reputation, they are also inherently viral.
So . . . a company responding to a blog-driven attack can't do a number of things:
- It can't reply with the formal authoritative tone and voice of the corporate news release.
- It can't respond with full corporate force (as the French might say a bas les avocats!) . . . or it can if it wants to go to war with a wider, more hostile blog world.
- It can't go it alone. The best defence for a company is other people coming to its defence.
- It can't assume the CEO or another senior executive is the best person to "speak" online about the issue. In fact, as Barger pointed out, sometimes the best spokesperson online may be the lowest ranked person who can reasonably be expected to know something about the issue being raised by the rogue blogger.
- It can't believe that winning the blog skirmish means winning the war. The issue won't disappear because what starts online, remains always online.
To counter five "can't dos" I will have to come up with about twice as many rules of the road for managing blog-hosted attacks.
Anyone care to kick it off?