Is your crisis communication plan really digital first?

This post by O’Dwyers announcing that H+K Strategies (formerly Hill & Knowlton) has officially declared that digital public relations and marketing communications is now the backbone to any organization’s communications. O’Dwyers is quite snarky in their comments about this “announcement” by H+K. It’s obvious they say, and that H+K is clearly outdated by even having to tout their digital savvy.

While it is true that some agencies, like Edelman, have long established credibility in digital comms, what O’Dwyer ignores is the fact that most organizations, even some of the most powerful and sophisticated in the world, still do not really get this. Almost any crisis communication plan I look at is still “media first.” That is, the primary focus of the plan is preparing for and delivering info and messages to media outlets.

I have to say I’ve been beating this drum for almost fifteen years now. When I created PIER in late 1999 I was really frustrated that most of my prospects–very smart, experienced communication folks and executives–didn’t really understand why a cloud-based communication management system was necessary. (By the way, PIER is now owned by WittO’Brien’s and I have no involvement.) That’s basically why I wrote Now Is Too Late, because I needed to think through and be able to present the rationale for digital-first communications. I say digital first, but I don’t really mean that. I’ve always believe in stakeholder first, with digital being the unprecedented means to communicate and interact with key stakeholders–those people who hold in their heads perceptions that determine your future.

So, H+K, congrats. Yes, you’re coming a bit late to the party. But its the pioneers who get arrows in their backs (ahem, Edelman and Walmart tour anyone?) And you still have much work to do to convince clients that salvaging a reputation isn’t about handing out press releases to the assembled crowd.

One thought on “Is your crisis communication plan really digital first?”

  1. ‘Digital First’ needs to be implemented ‘C-Suite First’. It isn’t the communicators who are having a hard time accepting the digital reality, it is the C-Suite.

    If the C-Suite accepted the digital world, communicators wouldn’t have to ask to use Social Media or interactive web tools, they would be TOLD to.

    The release approval process wouldn’t take hours, but would be decentralized to trusted experts for each communication medium. Corporate releases wouldn’t have jargon or gobbledygook. Photographs and graphics would be pervasive.

    What a wonderful world it would be.

    The truth is that effective digital communication will happen when the C-suite understands that it must happen. Too many executives, attorneys and incident commanders still think that communication is an optional activity.

Comments are closed.