Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A web outage is a relationships issue

Yesterday the www.tiny.com service was down. In a few hours there was a mass migration to a range of other comparable services.

Tiny lost customers and its reputation was tarnished.

This is a lesson for us all. If our online presence is not maintained it affects our reputation. It also means people go elsewhere to solve their problem. In the case of Tiny services like http://snipurl.com, http://urltea.com and http://paulding.net and the Firefox add-on all came to the aid of the online community.

When reputation is in the news so to are obscure commenst like this one from Slashdot.com

"Thanks to twitter, SMS, and mobile web, a lot of people are using the url minimizers like tinyurl.com, urltea.com. However, now I see a lot of people using it on their regular webpages. This could be a big problem if billions of different links are unreachable at a given time."

There is a ripple effect and a raft of different issues become relevant.

The circle of relationships is fractured.

But what if your organisation is the UK airport owner BAA?

What is the consequence of its sites being affected especially in times of crisis, as for example when there is a security scare?

This is not a Webmaster issue. Webmasters will be at the coal face trying to get it back up. Its a PR issue because it went down. It will also be a marketing issues, a finance issue, an internal relationship issue and a vendor relation issue.

A web site is a big public relations responsibility. It always was. But now its is a critical area of PR practice - a full lecture and seminar for year two in any BA PR degree.

Using a service like http://www.periscopeit.co.uk, a host data about the performance of a web site plus SMS and email alerts is a simple precaution.

Hopefully, this big issue is part of the CIPR advisory to its members and to its approved course lecturers and courses.

I (ahemmm) expect so!