This is a striking learning opportunity for Crisis Management:
- Tone is very important. So is speed. Microsoft is to be commended in their swift reaction, and for striking the proper tone (their announcement can be found here)
- That said, no matter how fast you are, the world will be faster. The Internet cannot be out-raced. Therefore, organizations with a crisis will by definition be reactive and playing catch-up, at least in the early stages
- How can your enterprise close this gap, move from reactive to proactive to preemptive and eventually get in front? Have a Crisis Management/ Crisis Communications program. Getting the foundation in place, pre-scripting responses and having the tools and team competency is vital to avoiding delayed and ad-hoc ineffective responses and reverberating the crisis. Think about having to get from Point A to Point B? Easier and faster to already have the roads paved, trucks ready to roll and drivers with current licenses and maps in hand? Or staring from scratch? A proper Crisis Management Program has essential elements: Plans, Process and Practice. Does yours?
- A key success factor for Crisis Management is that it is baked into the organization's end-to-end processes and DNA. The way, the program can respond to unintended consequences of normal business operations, especially automated ones. Shortly after the Brussels terrorist attack and airport closure, I received an automated Our Best Deals email from a leading online travel agency, advertising flights to... Brussels! (to their credit, the company tweeted out condolences and other messages shortly after)
- Cultural differences should be accounted for in crisis communication. Note the differences of point-of-view in the stories from the UK and the US, and even the political nuances between the Washington Post and Washington Times, in the links above. (Spoiler alert - today, all crises are global and multicultural)
- The Internet is a force multiplier for communications, both positive and negative. Human nature being what it is, the bad will always have more legs than the good
- Speaking of human nature, this is not Tay's fault. Social and other media are a reflection of us. Like most crisis events, Tay-Gate is not about hardware or software, it's about wet-ware!
Postscript: as advanced and accelerating as AI is, its not ready for prime time, especially in a crisis!
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Denouement: MSFT re-activated the new, improved Tay after 'counseling' her on not being 'inappropriate'. Shortly after her re-debut, she tweeted about smoking kush in front of a police car, then had an emotional breakdown and went into a tweet-spamming loop. MSFT took her offline again. I hear she's resting comfortably and getting the care she deserves.