Tylenol Tampering Scare
Exxon Valdez Oil Spill
Firestone Tire Fiasco
A Whole New Ballgame
Crisis Plan Checklist
Putting it into Action
|Advances in technology have allowed for a faster exchange of information. Suddenly, Internet users have instant access to real-time stock quotes, weather forecasts and even news headlines. What this means for companies is that they no longer have hours to sit down and come up with how they're going to respond to the crisis at their afternoon press conference. The media wants to know what the company is doing minutes after the crisis occurs so they can post it on their Web site. Ford's CEO Jac Nasser was proud of his company's ability to post important information on its Web site within 48 of learning that many of its vehicles were equipped with faulty Firestone tires. In an age of instant access, many criticized Ford's delay. "Technology is able to get something on a company's primary communications vehicle in just hours, maybe less." 27
Not only does technology allow for instantaneous information, it also allows for an even greater distribution of that knowledge. Public perception can now be "magnified" 28 with the use of discussion groups and message boards. Rumors can spread to millions in a matter of minutes, and the power of these rumors can be overwhelming.
However, technology does present advantages to a company in crisis, as both the Internet and personal communication technology can be utilized to reach the public.
By monitoring discussion groups and message boards, companies can more accurately gauge public opinion. In addition, because getting the story out to the public quickly is so important to the media, "the days of fact-checking and multi-sourcing information to prove its accuracy are over." 29 Therefore, these message boards present a way for companies to pinpoint disinformation so they can correct it quickly and move on to the next issue.
E-mail, cellular phones and wireless technology make it virtually impossible not to get in touch with people these days. Multiple communication tools allow the media to get ahold of important people in numerous ways. Therefore, it is important for public relations professionals, or whoever is handling the media's requests, provides alternate methods of communication on his/her voicemail. These would include cellular phone numbers, pager numbers, e-mail addresses and any other appropriate form of communication. There is no reason why these "point" people should be inaccessible to the media in a crisis event.
Many companies currently monitor the environment in an attempt to predict problems or changes in the environment through the use of clipping services. Traditional clipping services monitored only print and broadcast media. However, as the Internet has exploded as a major source of peoples' information, many services now also monitor the Internet. Luce and Burrell's are two such services that provide both online and offline clipping services.
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