The Internet is key in the prevention of a crisis. It is an important
tool in monitoring public opinion of an organization, what kind of coverage
a company and the competitors are receiving and determining allies and
Active monitoring of news and
chat groups, activist web sites and on-line news services is a good base
for preparation of crises. If a company were to predict public scrutiny,
monitoring sites and on-line commentary could provide early warning of
events and beliefs that could harm a company's reputation or credibility.
Assessing and ranking these issues according to importance is part of
an Internet plan essential to an organization.
Boyd Neil, magazine journalist
and professional communication and public affairs strategist, offers nine
basic ways to ensure an organization is "web-ready" for a crisis:
1) Have an Internet plan in your crisis communication manual
Also, Neil suggests implementing an on-line crisis communication manual
in addition to the traditional manual. Internet-based crisis communication
manuals can be easily accessed and updated, include detailed background
information difficult to maintain in hard copy, include easily accessible
databases and comprehensive media and stakeholder e-mail lists, and rapidly
disseminate media releases, stakeholder updates and announcements by electronic
2) Use the Internet as a virtual crisis command center so crisis team
members, senior executives and other employees can be updated on your
emergency response program and plans
3) Regularly monitor appropriate news and chat groups, advocacy group
sites and on-line news
Internet monitoring services are also available like "eWatch"
that tells you what web sites post your releases and what kind of coverage
your organization is getting (which sites, writers, consumers, investors
4) Include a web specialist on your crisis team
5) Become familiar with the ways issues and rumors develop and progress
6) Practice downloading and transferring documents, pictures, video and
audio on your web site
7) Consider Rapid-Response web pages with holding statements, company
backgrounds, fact sheets, media contact forms, etc.
Neil defines a Rapid-Response web site as a "microsite designed to
centralize and control information flow during a special event or transaction."
This type of site provides immediate and accurate information managed
by the company. It can provide reliable information to the public and
media through news releases, emergency updates and contact information.
8) Plan to use your company's web site to update public and media with
statements, FAQs, speeches and photographs.
9) Maintain an e-mail database of key media and stakeholders to get information
to them quickly.
as a PR tool