Saturday, February 26, 2011

Crisis Communications Tip: Not All Websites Are Created Equal

In my 25 Feb 11 blog posting, I advocated that PR Professionals must prioritise their attention when dealing with news agency according to the permanency of the medium. Related to this prioritisation, the PR Professional must also prioritise their attention according to the agency's “influence” with regards to their target audience. This prioritisation is important as the effect of citizen journalism allows an almost infinite number of Internet postings on your company in cyberspace. And with finite resources, PR departments cannot not possibly respond to all.

So how should PR Professionals prioritise their attention? Malcolm Gladwell's book The Tipping Point offers one possible framework.

According to Gladwell, messages spread like viruses due to the involvement of 3 particular types of people which he named connectors, mavens and salesmen. Broadly speaking, connectors are people with the ability to bring people together; mavens those who others rely upon for new information; and salesmen are those with the ability to persuade.

In any industry, there will be bloggers that meet the above 3 criteria – usually only a handful. Once identified, besides monitoring their daily postings (to forestall any potential crisis), PR Professionals should pro-actively engage these bloggers with the aim of making them into Ambassadors for the company. If this is not possible, then at least with the alternate aim of establishing a direct channel to the company so that the blogger can verify information before publishing negative things online.

In the infinite world of social media, not all websites are created equal. PR Professionals need to and, in my opinion can, exert some degree of influence. All it takes is some prioritisation and dedicated effort.

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