These are three high-profile examples in as many months of matters concerning employee/employer relationships that would likely never have seen the public light of day if it were not for blogs. The latest case, with Electronic Arts, has already expanded into a legal issue with the company being sued for allegedly failing to pay overtime wages.
The wife of an unnamed Electronic Arts employee posted highly-critical commentary on her personal blog about the company’s working practices and the effects they have on the lives of her husband and her family. That post on 10 November quickly attracted nearly 2,000 critical comments on the blog so far, as well as plenty of coverage by other blogs and media.
Communicators, this is the new reality!
Today, news travels faster and wider than you thought possible – especially news about matters that, in the good old days of traditional PR and other communication planning and execution, you could probably control and minimize its spread, or even prevent its travel at all.
Not a chance any longer. With the rise of blogs and the ability of literally anyone, anywhere, to become an instant public news broadcaster – a grassroots citizen journalist, as the Electronic Arts case clearly shows – those traditional times are gone forever.
What do you need to do? From the organizational communication perspective, while a blog is just another communication channel – an increasingly influential one, to be sure – news does travels faster, so you need to be absolutely ready with your communication plan so that you’re ready to roll literally at the drop of a hat when circumstances warrant it, both reactively (eg, you get a call from a journalist before you knew there was a story) and proactively (eg, your meaningful commentary in your planned statements, publicly and within your company).
Actually, that’s not much different from what the readiness state should be of any organization’s competent communication department – be prepared for any and every eventuality. What is mainly different is where much of the control now lies in speed, reach and influence.
So remember this fact, one that you will increasingly hear more: Today, the audience is firmly in charge.