Ketchum's Iffy Ideas
PR heavyweight Ketchum has come under considerable fire for the launch of its new-media practice, notably because the company doesn't appear to have any bloggers on its team who can bring any kind of experience to the table.
(Neville points to an excellent post from Constantin Basturea that coolly analyzes Ketchum's mistakes.)
Ketchum does have a website that addresses some new media issues, called Ketchum Ideas. The site offers an idea a day. I haven't read them all; so far, in fact, just the one our friend James Cherkoff of Open Sauce Marketing forwarded along, in which he is quoted. It deals with the need to factor blogs into crisis communication planning (old news) and offers some advice. It's not all good advice.
One of the things Ketchum says you need "at a minimum" is...
A customized blog that is ready to go should you need it - either a ‘live' site already in use or a ‘dark' site that can be switched on almost immediately. But be sure to assess the potential vulnerabilities of entering this volatile sphere of the Internet
A dark site for addressing a crisis is a good idea. A "dark blog" is not. Blogs are, at their core, trust networks. One of the upsides of a corporate blog (if done well) is that it builds a bond of trust with readers. When a crisis strikes, you can tap into that trust network where you have some goodwill in the bank. (Look back at my coverage of BigHa's blog and how it helped the company through its media crisis...or For Immediate Release's interview with BigHa's Noah Acres.) Starting a blog specifically to address a crisis, though, could only be met with derision. How do you build trust through honest and candid engagement when you're busily defending the company from the aftershocks of a crisis?
If this is the kind of advice Ketchum plans to offer clients of its new service, prospective clients should beware. It's just further indication that the company is jumping into the blogosphere for no other reason than that they don't want to leave billables on the table. It certainly doesn't seem to have much to do with an understanding of the environment in which they plan to help clients communicate.
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About the Author:
Shel Holtz is principal of Holtz Communication + Technology which focuses on helping organizations apply online communication capabilities to their strategic organizational communications.
As a professional communicator, Shel also writes the blog a shel of my former self.
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