Wikis: Better Internal Communication During Crisis

You’ve worked all day. At 6 p.m., a crisis within your agency or city now demands your all-night attention.

For communication professionals handling media requests, the difficulty of maintaining message continuity is a common dilemma. When a colleague finally rescues you after an all-nighter, you then face the task of communicating about communication.

  • What media statements have you disseminated?
  • What research have you gathered to make those statements?
  • Who else within your organization will now be available to assist in future statements?
  • What strategy are you utilizing, that the fresh replacements will need to know?
  • What back stories will explain your choices so far during the crisis, that can also inform your relievers?

Crisis communication plans provide some guidance for continuity, but every crisis has its own wrinkles, cast of characters, and specific media klieg lights. Social media may be paramount in some crises but less important in others.

Shift work, present in many government agencies, may be less familiar to communication professionals except during crisis. Yet, finding ways to communicate about ongoing messaging, in crisis or out, has become more important than ever in a complex and multi-channel world.

Solution? An internal wiki.

If you haven’t yet established an internal wiki for your team, then non-crisis mode makes it easy to create and become familiar with wiki usage before crisis hits.

In short, a wiki provides a text and image platform that allows many users to post content on topics, and to edit and enlarge that content across time, without losing original content. In real-time, as you are making communication decisions and sending messages to external audiences via email, social media, or press conference, you can also quickly post these statements to your internal wiki.

In your downtime between statements and media monitoring, you can review this material and add comments that will help your colleagues on the next shift. A wiki also helps you make sense of what is happening, while it is happening, giving you better perspective. And a wiki provides rich content for discussion after a crisis, enabling you to evaluate your and your team’s performance over time.

For more information about internal wikis and the tribal knowledge that can be captured in wikis, see Nick Finck’s presentation on the subject.

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