If your company, agency or organization is in a crisis, could be in a crisis or was in a crisis that could happen again, this blogs for you. I'm talking about those things that happen that threaten the future of the organization. Especially those things that involve public opinion or the opinions of people who are important to your future.
Today's story about Egypt cracking down on activists and dissidents, some of who are blogging, raises a very important issue about the clash of cultures that blogging often creates.
This is true not just of places like Egypt, other Mid-East nations, China and others with repressive governments. It is also true in the US and the rest of the leading world. The US's history is one of being the most open governmet systems and cultures in the world. Yet, there is much that is very closed. A lot of it for good reason. Not everything is everyone's business. It seems stunning to us now that a president as recent as Kennedy could be so protected by the press in his indiscretions. Now we would consider that a grevious violation of the press duty. There is less that is private–even while we scream for privacy. In fact, many that scream loudest for the protection of privacy are the very same ones who scream loudest for openness, transparency, accountability, etc.
This clash of cultures between control of information, putting a lid on dissent, protecting the party line–all in the face of bloggers and "its everybody's business" world is right now creating some very interesting discussions at the highest levels in some very big companies. As Naked Conversation authors Scoble and Israel point out, the PR industry more than anyone may have a hard time with the blogging culture. It just doesn't fit the careful messaging, the multiple inputs, the legal vetting, the controlled and limited distribution that now drives the issue and crisis management approach.
Where will Egypt's attempts to control blogging end up? China's attempts to control the internet and Google? If you think you know the answer to that, chances are you are pretty convinced that the corporate culture of control is on its way out.
I'll be writing a lot in here about blogwars because that is one area of crisis management that is keeping me busy and I suspect a lot more of us in the wild business. The blogosphere is wide, wide open with little to no controls and with an established culture that celebrates the angry activist, the loud screamers, the axe-grinder willing to do anything and say anything about a person or company who has ticked him or her off. And that means lots and lots of companies and individuals involved in those companies are finding themselves the topic of blogtalk. Not so much a problem except when the target is high profile and blogger knows how to get traffic–partly by picking on a high profile target.
Companies are suddenly finding that this kind of activity can have a direct and terrifying impact on their business. People do go to the web for information these days, you know. And when they read info negative about the company, and not being in the best position to separate truth from fiction, they can make unfair judgments based on what they read. At that up a few hundred times, thousand times of hundreds of thousands of times and you can have serious impact on a business.
I call it blogwars. And there can be some very interesting battles.