Ibis Associates

NEWSLETTER

October, 1999

Volume 1 No. 5

<SPAN style="FONT-FAMILY: Arial">PPrevious newsletters discussed risk management, benchmarking and best practices. This month is the first of two newsletters on crisis management. This issue will address crisis management on the Internet. Next month we will cover risk management as an overall scheme. This may appear to be slightly backwards, addressing a smaller issue prior to the larger overall topic. We feel that a crisis can explode much more rapidly through this medium and can even affect the ”little” guys. Ergo we are providing this newsletter slightly out of synch.

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<SPAN style="FONT-FAMILY: Arial">CRISIS MANAGEMENT ON THE NET - DEFINITION <o:p></o:p></SPAN>

<SPAN style="FONT-FAMILY: Arial">A crisis is an issue or incident that threatens your organization or reputation. However defined, it is rare. Do you remember, Valuejet, TWA Flight 800, Bhopal and Exxon Valdez? <SPAN style="mso-spacerun: yes"> </SPAN>Through fast reporting on the Internet, rumors can spread like wildfire. Ask the CEO of Proctor and Gamble who has been rumored to be part of a devil-worshipping cult. It is utter nonsense of course but it can threaten to destroy the confidence of the public in any organization very quickly.

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<SPAN style="FONT-FAMILY: Arial">MANAGE THE CRISIS</SPAN><SPAN style="FONT-FAMILY: Arial"><o:p></o:p></SPAN>

<SPAN style="FONT-FAMILY: Arial">The first step is to avoid panic. Check the overall situation; don’t forget to see the forest, not the trees. Most incidents begin with the actions of a single individual. It is important to determine the status of a situation as quickly as possible. There are professional monitoring services (eWatch, Cybercheck, and Cyveillance), but they may be costly.

The next step is to determine whether your organization needs to respond. You may not need to do anything; the Internet community may defend your position. Your damages may be minimal. Your business may not be affected after all.

An important point to remember is that everything shows up on the Net. Remember that if a dispute reaches court, all documents becomes part of the public record and it is possible that corresponding discovery documents may be placed on the Web. So, be concise and consistent. You must expect to defend yourself beyond the courtroom.

Keep your employees' identities confidential. In highly emotional situations (which certainly this will become) the use of a pseudonym with full attribution to the company will help to ensure the safety of your employees.

The Internet has certain rules and mores --Follow them. There are established rules of conduct such as staying within the medium and avoiding self-serving comments when posting information.

Erroneous posts can be removed from Internet search engines. When confronted with proof that a post is libelous, not true, or otherwise incorrect, the major search engines will delete them from their databases.

Step out promptly. By not addressing obvious high-profile situations on a corporate web site, it can appear that the company is hiding something. The Net is a very public medium; you cannot hide.
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It takes one to defeat one. Companies lose to activists primarily because they are less committed to winning than activists are committed to defeating those they attack.

Know what the activist knows. Understand the pattern of activist attack then go outside the pattern. It is important to keep your cool and stay focused. Remain relentless, but positive. Assess the actual damage and try to any forecast potential damage.</SPAN>

 

<SPAN style="FONT-FAMILY: Arial">HOW TO RESPOND<o:p></o:p></SPAN>

<SPAN style="FONT-FAMILY: Arial">Point out any exaggeration and it is okay to admit errors. Do outline any corrective action you will be taking. Assess any actual damage and estimate any potential damage. You must now determine whether there is need for preemptive action. Create a neat, clean, corporate-looking response site. Then contrast your legitimacy with their juvenile, trivial approach. Choose your battles carefully and respond calmly, deliberately, succinctly, competently and incrementally. Stay focused and always use appropriate positive language for the medium. Respond carefully, positively, candidly and politely. If in the wrong, correct the problem. Point out errors and any emotionalism. Always insist on independent, unbiased proof. Register your response site in the same manner as your instigator. When the situation is resolved, remove listings</SPAN>. <SPAN style="FONT-FAMILY: Arial">Make it a point to systematically</SPAN> <SPAN style="FONT-FAMILY: Arial">monitor the Internet. Discourage loyal employees from responding on your behalf, it should be one controlled voice. Respond only if necessary. If journalists arrive, direct them to your response site. Point out the exaggeration and admit errors. Outline your corrective actions. Always avoid whining</SPAN>.<SPAN style="FONT-FAMILY: Arial"><o:p></o:p></SPAN>

SUMMARY

<SPAN style="FONT-FAMILY: Arial">Internet activism is now a part of business life. We all must get used to it. More importantly we must be ready for it. Always act decisively and remember activists rarely win against honorable organizations. There may be some momentary embarrassment and humiliation and possible small damage. Activists will win when genuine problems are ignored, issues remain unexplained, or behaviors simply don't pass the smell test. Activist success requires energetic, negative responses from their targets. Without it they have little choice but to move on.<o:p></o:p></SPAN>

<SPAN style="FONT-FAMILY: Arial">Protect your company’s reputation by advance planning. Brainstorming potential problems and outline a plan of defense. <SPAN style="mso-spacerun: yes"> </SPAN>Be prepared and nominate a spokesperson, have the phone number of a public relations firm that could assist you and just be ready to counterattack.<o:p></o:p></SPAN>

<SPAN style="FONT-FAMILY: Arial">Next month we will continue our coverage of crisis management with a broad picture of dealing with the rapid transmission of rumor and innuendo.<o:p></o:p></SPAN>

How Can Ibis Associates Help Your Organization?

Talk to us about our methods of improving your financial performance, and assisting you in determining what strategy is best for you. We strong believe in the coaching method rather than the old typical impression of a consultancy.

NEXT ISSUE -

Upcoming issues will include topics on crisis management, workers compensation and organization change. Our white paper on financial issues for our non-profit clients is almost ready. It is an in-depth coverage of finance, procedures and analysis of performance that will assist in determining how healthy your organization really is.

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Smile of the day

The Two Rules of Success: 1. Don’t tell everything you know.

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Small Print

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CONTACT INFORMATION

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Telephone: (626) 799-0680                  Facsimile: (626) 799-6939

E-Mail: MLieberman@IbisGroup.com     Web site: www.IbisGroup.com