Blogging: A Tool For Crisis Communications
Why companies are building blog-audiences to prepare for a future crisis.
I once worked with a crisis management and prevention firm, blogging for clients. What I learned has stayed with me throughout my career.
The firm worked with small to mid-level organizations to ensure their businesses survived personal crises, dealing with everything from workplace harassment claims to senior leader theft and criminal charges. Some clients walked through the door, looking for survival tactics for immediate threats. I never worked with those clients.
I worked with clients that had absolutely no crisis but wanted to build up a strategic messaging advantage to ready for launch when the time arose. They were using what I now understand to be strategic foresight. As J. Scoblic explained in the August 2020 Harvard Business Review, “Strategic foresight doesn’t help us figure out what to think about the future. It helps us figure out how to think about it.
If a company didn’t have an audience, followers, and fans connected to multiple streams of content, how would they be able to message effectively and directly during a crisis? They wouldn’t. They’d rely on external paid methods of public messaging, which doesn’t come across as authentic and personal. And their competition jumps ahead if they’ve got more grounded and established messaging platforms.
This foresight helped shape the way I look at corporate and branded blogging and social media, not only for marketing and branding, but to understand the full value of investing in a robust digital narrative.
Blogging as a Tool For Crisis Communication
Blogs are a highly effective tool, getting messages out to the masses with little delay and broad impact. To set them up for crisis communication success, you need to build a strategic audience of tier-one followers. Then, you’ll need to make predictions about the future, based on past and current events, paired with qualitative and quantitative information to construct a solidly linked pre-crisis narrative, or preventative narrative.
It’s a highly collaborative process and takes time to develop, but worth it.
Why & How
Blogs and Search Engine Visibility
Particularly for small and mid-sized companies, getting visibility in a crisis is tricky when you’re not prepared. When big-name organizations and businesses put out information, it’s readily picked up by the media, while smaller entities have to do more legwork. With a blog and a good search engine optimization strategy, using targeted keywords, your crisis response is more likely to show up on the radar.
The more a blog is used and updated, the quicker search engines pick up new entries. If you’re planning to include blogging as a crisis communication tool, don’t wait until the crisis hits. Keep messaging regularly and the blog will better serve its purpose.
Tech Tip “Spiders” only “read” approximately the first third of each page. To show up in more searches and allow the Internet to “see” you, add more relevant text at the top of a webpage, producing crawlable and indexable information.
Sharing Your Point of View
Unlike a situation where you’re caught by surprise because an editor prints a misquote, a blog allows a company to share its point of view on the company’s turf. At the same time, ensuring that people hear from you directly, rather than from another source.
Another critical aspect of sharing personal perspective via a blog is authenticity. Often, corporate press releases and other forms of communication come off as guarded and detached, especially in a crisis. The format and style of a blog, even a corporate blog, ensure that you can interject as much authenticity, opinion, and voice as is appropriate.
The Potential for Controlled Interaction
Blogs are built with the potential for an interactive environment, particularly through comments from readers and writers. Interactive dialogue can be a part of a crisis communication plan, keeping many responses contained in an area where a company spokesperson can directly respond. Blogs are particularly ideal for this as comments can be pre-moderated, removing inaccurate information while allowing for open communication otherwise.
Planning Tip Games? Drills? Yes! Simulate negative comments on the blog with your communications team, before it happens, to align behind appropriate best responses, while learning more about your team’s logic and thought process.
Using a blog as part of a crisis communications plan is just that — one aspect of a well made, carefully enacted strategy. The blog is simply a tool to leverage and reach consumers, media, and other interested parties, removing interference. If you’re not already using a blog, it’s time to think about how it can become part of your messaging and crisis plan.