The time when company executives were in control of what was said about a company has been fading for some time. Growth in the numbers of publications has meant that there is already a wide media with ever more specific interest in the company. The advent of the Internet now means that any and every aspect of the company is open to comment by anyone. What is said can come from employees, suppliers, investors, activists, in fact any stakeholder. In addition, comment about your company can be made by people who have no knowledge about the company what so ever.
This porosity, the means by which information can flow in and out of a company from and through anyone, is one of the most significant aspects of the Internet for company directors.
It means that there is a need for a completely new way of thinking about mission, strategy, internal motivation and communication. There will always be disaffected stakeholders. The key to management of this phenomena is in ensuring that there is close understanding of corporate objectives throughout the organisation. In this way, even the most unpalatable events can be managed without the disaffected being able to create a constituency that will harm the corporate whole.
In addition, the Internet adds the dimension that the company will need to protect its stakeholders from the effects of the disaffected.
In many ways, the Internet provides its own solution with the availability of Intranets, which, if attractive, instructive, helpful and appealing offer excellent means to communicate at every level at the kind of speed the Internet demands.
The nature of companies with effective Intranets is that its application also makes the company more porous and this level of transparency has its drawbacks. That there is confidential information in every company goes without saying. Clarity in explaining why it is confidential and the consequences of such information in the wrong hands to fellow stakeholders needs to be articulated to all.
In this way, the company creates its own defences and the virtual communities within the company become substantially self regulating.