Monday, March 13, 2006

Hard Lesson To Learn 

Everyone knows with the internet it is hard to keep secrets, but not everyone remembers this fact. Even Google forgets occasionally.

At issue is transparency. Just how transparent should companies be with an omnipresent eye about them comprised of millions of lesser eyes -- employee-bloggers and e-mailers, fans, critics, reporters and ordinary citizens? The answer is not easy for there are secrets that must be maintained by law until made public to all at the same time. There are personnel decisions that require secrecy for the protection of individuals and careers. There are proprietary processes and inventions that are difficult to patent but confer competitive advantage. And, there are embarrassments CEOs and boards would prefer not to air in public.

In client work, we are privy to secrets, but we are more fearful that news will escape before its time. If we know there will be a major announcement, we advise clients to move quickly now. News tends to slip sideways into the public domain. Someone whispers to someone who mentions it to someone and suddenly, it's out. It was easier when one had to worry about five or six reporters.

We predict a lessening of efforts to create broad impact with coordinated news releases and more rushing to the media, simply because we will be forced to do so.

But, there will still be secrets because organizations cannot be totally transparent. Some issues are better handed behind closed doors.


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