Online Reputation Tips: 5 Ways To Counter A Digital Crisis

09/12/2011 08:38 am ET | Updated Nov 12, 2011

My recent Harvard Business Review article, "Reputation Warfare", described various corporate strategies for countering online assaults. Given the often anonymous, easily accessible and rapidly disbursable nature of these attacks, every one of them has the potential to become a crisis, grabbing headlines and spreading instantaneously to millions across Twitter, YouTube, and other social networks.

How well a company manages such events not only prevents against unwarranted damage to its reputation, but also adds value in its own right. A company that handles itself online says much about its ability to execute in this modern age and helps define how a company is perceived.

Having in place an effective digital defense plan is thus crucial. Five essentials when building such a plan are:

1. Beware, the Clock Ticks

Corporate response times to a media crisis used to be measurable in days--72, 48, or at the very least, 36 hours.

This is no longer the case.

Today's 24/7 news cycles are only 60 minutes. Companies must now respond immediately to an emerging issue or crisis.

To be nimble requires preparation. A company should be ready at a moment's notice to issue an online corporate statement, press release, video message, social media mention, e-mail or tweet. They should be set to launch a microsite or dark site that can be activated in the event of a crisis. Failure to be prepared undermines credibility and surrenders the playing field to adversaries.

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