Whether it’s a massive power outage, contaminated food issue or an ethics disagreement, a crisis can strike your client at any time. To properly manage communications around the issue, a page on their website, subdomain or microsite might be created to help inform people about what’s happening.
But which avenue is best? Where should your position on the crisis get posted?
Page Addition on a Website
This method will most likely be the easiest and quickest of the three. Assuming that your website has a content management system, adding a new page to the site should be really easy. This approach also will closely associate the crisis with the brand as this page is directly off of the main site. Also, if SEO is a consideration, this option will work best as this new page will be able to inherit the website’s domain authority and “link juice” that has already been established.
If you are looking to take more of a passive role to the crisis, a subdomain off your website might be the answer. A subdomain is essentially a brand new site and will have to be built from the ground up. Not only will a site need to get built, but this new subdomain won’t inherit any authority that your main site might have established. In doing so, this method creates a challenge from an SEO standpoint.
There might be a time when minimal branding or association with the crisis is needed. To help communicate the issue, a microsite/new website might be the answer, as the new domain name could contain no branded terms. Just like a subdomain, a ground up site build will need to occur. This new build can give you the opportunity to design a website that looks totally different from an established look and feel. However, this approach takes time.
Although a new domain name can be bought in a matter of minutes, it can take up to 72 hours for the new domain to get fully associated with its web server. When trying to act fast on an issue, a microsite may not be the way to go. Just like a subdomain, you’re starting fresh and having a site that performs well in a search engine will be a challenge. Typically, crisis domains are purchased really quickly and set to expire within a year. Not only will the lack of authority that a new site has work against you, but Google rankings also are influenced by domain expiration and purchase metrics.
All in all, it’s tough to recommend the perfect crisis plan on the web. It all depends on the severity of the crisis and the communication strategy. However, the three options I outlined offer three slightly different approaches to managing a crisis.