After the announcement of the loss of 5000 jobs, Qantas Frequent Flyer produced a great example of ‘dark content’ for the embattled airline.
What is dark content?
In times of a crisis people will turn to digital media. A dark site or dark content is pre-built content or even a whole website that can quickly be distributed in times of crisis or a website that can replace your current website in a crisis management situation.
The death of Steve Jobs produced one of the most famous examples of a dark website, when Apple replaced its standard website with his iconic image within seconds of the announcement of his death.
It is easy to look pretty bad in a crisis if you adopt a business-as-usual attitude. It is better to show your concern and make a statement than just look like you don’t care.
Burson-Marsteller’s 2011 Crisis Prepared Study revealed that 59% of the businesses surveyed that had experienced a crisis in the past and did not have a crisis plan were 41% more likely to see a drop in revenue compared to 30% for those who did have a crisis plan in place.
Dark content enables a company to be at the central point of information and can help suppress damaging rumours. Not communicating is seen as hiding, which frequently causes crisis when a brand tries to hide online.
Many companies have drawn-out processes for what they will publicly say or announce. This process takes time, and in the world of social media, that is exactly what you don’t have: Time to plan out an approved response.
The best way is to be prepared. Do scenario planning and ensure you have a process and content prepared in the event of a crisis.
What people want to know in such a situation is:
- Available facts
- Depending on the type of crisis, tell people what they must or must not do
- What the organisation is doing to rectify the situation
- Give as much truth and knowledge about the situation
- Contact information
- A humble apology and response mechanism based on the crisis response plan in the channel the storm first appeared
- Responding to a national or global crisis immediately
Rapid response time is essential in managing a crisis situation. A pre-built dark site can be customised and brought to publication in a matter of hours.
It is better to plan when there is no crisis. Prepared content should be simple, social media ready and SEO ready and consequently very cost-effective as well as managing risk to your organisation.
Fi Bendall is the managing director of Bendalls Group, a team of highly trained digital specialists, i-media subject matter experts and developers.