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HC+T Update: May 2001

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  • HoltzUpdate by way of Jim Rink
    From: Holtz Communication + Technology Subject: HC+T Update May 2001 In This Issue: 1. GasPriceWatch Shows
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 1, 2001
      From: Holtz Communication + Technology
      Subject: HC+T Update

      May 2001

      In This Issue:

      1. GasPriceWatch Shows Many-to-Many Power
      2. A Ready-Made Crisis Communication Site
      3. Laborers, Factory Workers Are Online
      4. IBM Taps Intranet As Brainstorming Space
      5. What Belongs On The CEO's Intranet Page
      6. HC+T Update
      7. Boilerplate And Subscription Information


      For everybody who thinks the Internet is all about
      slick Flash intros and multi-million-dollar Websites,
      GasPriceWatch could come as a rude awakening. The
      site boasts 26,225 volunteers who check the prices
      of gasoline at 633,850 gas stations near them (in
      the U.S. and Canada) and then report those prices to
      the site. As a result, visitors can enter their Zip
      Code and find the cheapest gasoline in their

      Billed as a "Consumer Advocacy Site for for Fuel
      Prices," GasPriceWatch invites anybody to become
      a "spotter" by completing a short form. Every time
      a spotter updates a price, he earns 10 points. In the
      past, spotters with the highest points have earned
      prizes provided by site sponsors. While the site
      owners look for a new sponsor with possible incentives,
      high point scores count only for bragging rights.
      That may be enough. The top spotter has just over
      1 million points.

      Spotters can also create their own personal page on
      the site, allowing them to monitor the prices of all
      the stations they monitor (as well as to keep track
      of their points). In addition, the site features a
      "Sounding Board" where participants can discuss the
      issues, and a wealth of information on everything
      from fuel taxes to news and consumer resources.

      The site, run by GasPriceWatch, Inc. out of Ohio,
      was launched in mid-1999 out of altrustic
      motivations: "Give the consumers the information
      required to help them make cost-saving decisions,"
      the site claims.

      Of course, the site would be useless if not for the
      volunteer spotters, proving that the real power of
      the Internet rests with all of the individuals who
      use it.

      GasPriceWatch can be found (of course) at


      Organizations that do not prepare to address a crisis
      via the company's Website run a considerable risk.
      Companies should, at a minimum, prepare templates that
      can be activated during a crisis and develop a plan
      about how to use the Web when disaster strikes.

      If the thought of developing those templates seems
      daunting in the face of all your other Web-based
      commitments, it may be worth your while to check out
      the PIER System. PIER (Public Information Emergency
      Response) is a full-service crisis communication site;
      some organizations have actually stretched the
      use of the site to handle their ongoing media

      The PIER System allows you to develop your company's
      crisis or issues-oriented Website and maintain it
      without a lick of Web-coding expertise. You can
      maintain a press release archive, video footage, audio
      clips, and other documents; conduct polls; develop
      a mailing list to which visitors can subscribe; and
      handle inquiries. The site also allows you to develop
      email mailing lists that can be activated for the
      distribution of any kind of information to any specific
      targeted audience. Need to send a crisis update to
      a list of public officials? You can create the
      document, route it for approvals, and distribute it
      to the list from within the PIER System.

      Developed by a public relations firm that saw a need
      for such a service, understands the importance of
      media tracking -- users can record interactions with
      the media. The service is realtively new, but the
      site offers links to all the crisis and issues sites
      hosted by the service. Even if you have the resources
      to handle a crisis site in-house, PIER System is worth
      a look if for no other reason than getting an idea
      of all the various kinds of services you can offer
      online during a crisis. I particularly liked the Sumas
      Energy 2 site (you'll find it under the "S" listing).

      PIER System: http://www.piersystem.com


      If you've been targeting your Web content to a higher-
      income, highly educated audience because that's who's
      online, it's time to update your view of Internet
      demographics. Recent research by Nielsen/NetRatings has
      shown the number of factory workers and laborers with
      Internet and Web access from their homes increased from
      6.2 million a year ago to 9.4 million this year, making
      it the fastest growing occupational group using the

      Next on the list was homemakers, whose ranks increased
      by 49 percent in the one-year period, followed by
      service workers and sales personnel (37 percent

      increase), and clerical and administrative workers (31


      >From an income perspective, the Pew Internet Project
      finds that the number of home Internet users with
      incomes under $30,000 grew from 28 percent to 38
      percent of the Internet population as of Fall 2000.

      This leveling of online demographics is making the
      Internet less a hangout for the high-tech and
      upper-middle-class, and more like television. As a
      result, companies that once found the Internet an
      inappropriate tool for reaching its target audiences
      may find it's time to reevaluate the Net's potential.


      My colleague Dave Skwarczek, who runs Streams (a Web
      developer) out of Chicago, forwards a story from Yahoo!
      News about IBM's innovative use for its intranet.

      According to the story, some 50,000 IBM employees
      located around the world spent four days in an online
      brainstorming session designed to surface business
      ideas and "demonstrate the feasibility of such a
      massive virtual gathering."

      More than 20 percent of IBM's total employee population
      took part in WorldJam, using the intranet's chat room
      and bulletin board capabilities. A polling function
      allowed employees to cast their votes for the best ways
      to generate business, work efficiently and retain
      key employees. IBM considers the event -- one of the
      most ambitious ever conducted on an intranet -- a
      huge success. Employees contributed thousands of ideas,
      and nearly 150 employees promised to give ideas
      produced in the virtual session a try.

      Most organizations continue to view their intranets
      as reposititories of information. IBM's effort makes
      it clear that the many-to-many nature of the Internet
      can be just as potent inside an organization. While
      WorldJam took nine months to produce, the payoff will
      most likely exceed the expense and effort by several
      times. This kind of success can easily be held up to
      management of non-technology companies as an example
      of how to apply the intranet to company issues.


      More and more intranets are featuring a CEO site. It's
      a good idea for a lot of reasons:

      * It personalizes the CEO
      * It affords the CEO an opportunity to converse with
      * It provides the CEO with a forum for expressing his
      concerns and sharing his ideas

      Simply building the CEO site isn't enough for it to
      have the desired effect. Here are some key points to
      consider when planning a CEO site for your intranet:

      * Make sure the CEO writes her own updates. People are
      accustomed to reading CEO columns in magazine that
      are obviously written by Corporate Communications,
      but they expect a more human voice online.
      * Make sure the CEO updates her column regularly.
      * Include a discussion area where the CEo can surface
      issues and solicit employee feedback and ideas. It
      should only take her 10 minutes a day to scan the
      latest contributions and hammer out a reply or two,
      but the group absolutely must show the CEO engaging
      with employees who take the trouble to contribute
      * Consider a chat room as well, where the CEO can go
      real-time with employees in scheduled chats about
      specific issues.
      * The CEO's performance goals should be available on
      the site.
      * The executive team -- the people who report to the
      CEO -- should be profiled on the site, with comments
      from the CEO about why each individual's role is
      important to the organization.

      This is the kind of content that makes for a compelling
      site employees will visit. It also clearly means that

      your CEO is is required to participate actively in the
      site's content. That is, she needs to see the site as
      a potent business tool, and not just as a collection of
      Web pages. Without that commitment, don't waste your
      time; it'll be just another Web page.

      6. HC+T Update

      >>>Shel will speak to communicators at Charter Bank
      in Hong Kong in July. While there, he'll take a day
      to spend with the Hong Kong chapter of IABC.

      >>>Shel will help a major enterprise software developer
      retool its Human Resources intranet.

      >>>Shel will consult with the World Bank on its
      intranet in Washington, D.C. next month.

      >>>In June, Shel will present "Writing for the Wired
      World" to Community First Bankshares in Fargo, North
      Dakota, and to Educational Testing Systems in Oakland,
      California. He'll also make a presentation at IABC's
      international conference.

      >>>Shel participates later this week in a panel
      discussion for the senior management of CalPERS to
      address what works on the Internet and what business
      can expect in the near future.


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      (C) 2001, Holtz Communication + Technology.
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