Terrorist Rampage in Mumbai-Online Rises to the Occasion
Just reviewed how some web sites in India are managing the terrorist crisis online. The two hotels where explosions occurred and hostages were taken – the Taj and Oberi – both had statements on their home page websites deploring the terrorisms and providing phone numbers for people to call. The Taj reported that “We will rebuild every inch that has been damaged in this attack and bring back the Taj to its full glory. 7.30 am IST, November 27, 2008.” The prime minister of India, Dr. Singh, has information on his web site with a text release of his comments and condolences for the top security officer. The broadcast I saw on cnn.com was not on their web site. All of the other sites have relevant information such as the Consulate General of the U.S. in Mumbai letting American citizens know they can get lost passports without delay [“U.S. citizens who have immediate travel plans and have lost or damaged passports can come directly to the Consulate to obtain an emergency replacement passport.”]. The Mumbai police also has emergency telephone numbers to call. One of India’s major airlines had no information on their home page about the crisis. I had read that Fortune 500 Unilever had officers at the Taj but they have information on their global home page and a statement that “Unilever Management Team at Mumbai safe. We wish to confirm that the Unilever Group CEO Mr. Patrick Cescau, the Unilever CEO-elect Paul Polman and the HUL Management team including HUL Chairman, Mr. Harish Manwani and HUL CEO Mr Nitin Paranjpe, who were at the Taj Hotel (Mumbai) yesterday, had left the hotel last night itself and they are all safe and accounted for. Our thoughts are with all those who have been affected by these unfortunate events.” Reputations can be damaged during a crisis such as this if information, limited as it may be, is not forthcoming. During the September 11th attacks in New York, I monitored how companies used the Internet to provide information and one conclusion was that companies learned a vital lesson in crisis management at the time. Many companies learned how to use the Internet to crisis manage online for the first time. Most company web sites were not used effectively to provide news and information to those concerned. Alas, times have changed.
My sincere wishes for a speedy end to a horrific situation.