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Online forums are a dream for stock traders, angry consumers and activists, but they can create nightmares for corporations. Stay ed in.
Head of Communications Bioregional London Greater. And while online discussion forums may not have huge audiences, Terry Hemeyer, senior counselor at Pierpont Communications in Houston, points out that important people, such as reporters and financial analysts, are reading the messages.
Sometimes they unknowingly pass along misinformation about a company. Pros differ on the most effective method for responding to the attacks. Those that do a good job with Internet outreach are better equipped to deal with online reporters when a crisis hits.
He adds that companies should stay away from registering negative versions of their domain names, which may make reporters think they have something to hide. Tom Gable of The Gable Group says that pros may want to enter online discussions anonymously to try to shape them, but Jackson says companies should always properly represent themselves. When there is a legitimate problem, a company should not hide from it.
Quicken acknowledged the mistake and agreed to pay any tax penalties that resulted from it. The complaints stopped.
Third parties can also be useful. It endorsed the use of chlorine dioxide as an alternative to chlorine for bleaching paper. As for monitoring comments to begin with, companies can do so manually, through automated clipping services, through purchased software or by writing programs of its own.
The cost starts at dollars 16, for all five coverage areas per year and 10 users, or dollars 3, for an individual coverage area. It costs dollars a month for weekly clipping, dollars a month for daily clipping and a one-time dollars setup fee. CyberAlert, which charges a fixed fee of dollars 1, per month for up to five topics and 10 users, monitors the Web, news groups, listserv discussion groups and online forums.
Regardless of the service used, pros recommend continuing to monitor online discussion forums manually. And even when problems are resolved, pros should continue to monitor to see if the issue reappears. Rely on a combination of automated monitoring tools, such as eWatch, as well as manual monitoring.
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Have a crisis plan ready for dealing with damaging comments posted on the Internet. Things can spread quickly on the Internet, and the quicker a company reacts the less damage will be done. Use the same principles of effective PR that you would with any other medium.
Portray someone as an anonymous third-party source if he or she is affiliated with the company. This will only fuel the fire. Be afraid to admit when the company has made a mistake. The straightforward approach is more likely to cause the issue to die down than denials will. Have you registered with us yet?
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