Managing a Crisis Online: Heading Off a Disaster in Cyberspace

In today's 24/7 information universe, where adversity can affect--or, worse yet, pummel--the reputation of a company regardless of its office hours, mastering the art of online crisis communications is an industry imperative. Nowhere was this more evident than during the recent Wall Street meltdown, which saw the collapse of a fabled 150-year-old investment firm (Lehman Brothers), the selling off of a mainstay brokerage house (Merrill Lynch) to Bank of America and the foundering of an insurance titan (AIG), all in a single weekend. Though the grapevine buzz had grown increasingly dire prior to the now-historic weekend, many of the firms' staffers awoke to anxiety regarding their job security (or lack thereof). Clearly, the corporate communications departments at these firms were not prepared for the impact of the crisis that ensued. Had they planned more properly, perhaps the shock felt by their employees could have been eased immeasurably.

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