PAC picks exemplary online public affairs programs in latest study

WASHINGTON: When the Men-docino Redwood Company received an online petition attacking its business practices, it responded personally to every single signatory.

WASHINGTON: When the Men-docino Redwood Company received an online petition attacking its business practices, it responded personally to every single signatory.

Ford Motor Company maintains an intranet on which its public affairs staffers across the US can learn about state and local regulations within minutes of their introduction.

And when American Airlines lost two planes to hijackers on September 11, it rerouted all its commercial web traffic to a site usually reserved for investors that was less graphics-intensive and more able to handle high-volume traffic.

These are a few examples of how public affairs pros are putting information technology to good use, as documented in the Public Affairs Council's (PAC) newest study, "Public Affairs Strategies in the Internet Age."

More a collection of best practices than a study geared toward statistical findings, the 30-page edition lists more than a dozen examples of companies - not all of which are PAC members - using innovative communications techniques.

"We felt it was more valuable to look at best practices to figure out some common themes and to highlight innovations,

said PAC president Doug Pinkham.

Among the themes explored is how the internet can help create a community among consumers, employees, or PA staff worldwide, which later on reduces the need for another of the net's best applications, crisis communications.

"That way, when you face a crisis, people give you the benefit of the doubt and view you as a good corporate citizen, and listen to what you have to say,

explained Pinkham.

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