Internet Domain GoDaddy.com is
no stranger to crisis, having experienced more than its fair share,
backlashes as a result of their overly sexual advertising and
a customer revolt over a video of their CEO Bob
Parsons killing elephants.
Monday afternoon crisis struck
GoDaddy.com again when the Internet domain lost control of its
website services almost entirely, causing GoDaddy hosted websites
and email services to go offline. How did this happen? Shortly
after the outage, someone on Twitter claimed to have hacked the
GoDaddy system as part of Anonymous, a loose confederation of
rogue hackers. However, today GoDaddy announced the shutdown was a
result of the failures in the company's own
While GoDaddy's system was up and
running Tuesday morning, the several-hours long crash left many
GoDaddy customers frustrated -- and reacting on Twitter and blogs.
One comment thread on a TheNextWeb.com article even called for a class
action lawsuit against GoDaddy for the loss of business for the
Despite its prior crisis experience,
GoDaddy has shown too slow to respond and take the lead role in
providing information. Here are four crisis lessons to be learned
from GoDaddy's woes:
Be the first to break the bad
GoDaddy made the mistake of not
breaking the news first. As seen in this screenshot of Google results shortly after the
crisis happened, it's easy to see that GoDaddy did not have a
direct presence in the crisis. GoDaddy's voice was swimming in a
sea of other articles publicizing the issue.
If GoDaddy had responded in a timely
manner and alerted their customer base and the general public first
instead of having news sources find out about the shutdown from a
secondary source, the crisis would have been much more easily
Go beyond apologizing. Establish
and communicate a plan of action in your announcement.
GoDaddy deserves some credit for
attempting to control the crisis by responding on social media with
apologies and numerous "thanks for understanding" responses.
However, customers wanted answers. By providing periodic public
information updates to the client via Twitter, Facebook and their
website, GoDaddy would have been able to keep customers informed,
while showing them their company is working to solve the issue.
GoDaddy did publish a message on their main webpage, but only for a
brief time. The message simply stated GoDaddy is experiencing
issues and is working on the problem, leaving their customers
mostly in the dark without any information updates. If GoDaddy were
able to communicate to customers what exact steps they were taking
to manage the problem, customers would have likely responded
Provide your affected customers
a place to express their frustrations and seek
If GoDaddy had a central place for
customers to vent their frustrations and answer questions, they
would have had a stronger voice and been able to contact customers
more efficiently. Because Go Daddy lacked this central place to
respond, customers retreated to discussion boards, such as TheNextWeb.com and other platforms. Instead of
opting to try and contain customer concerns on their home turf,
theygave customers no choice but to vent their frustrations outside
of the GoDaddy website.
Put a halt to any external
communications efforts, which could come off as inappropriate, as
soon as possible.
Ironically, shortly after the crisis,
GoDaddy sent customers a back-to-school themed email
blast entitled "Today's Lesson." The timing of the email made it
sound like an internal response to the crisis to customers.
However, the email only revealed a 20 percent% off offer.
GoDaddy should have recognized this email title could be perceived
as a response to the crisis and stopped the communication from
In the midst of a crisis, it's
important to be conscience of how communications and media
relations efforts can be perceived.
Establish a crisis
communications plan for future crises.
Although it is impossible to predict
any and all crises, when a crisis strikes, communication is
critical to protect an organization's reputation and ability to
fulfill its mission. A swift and effective response can prevent a
challenging situation from escalating into a full-blown crisis with
far-reaching negative implications. The key to responding well in a
crisis is preparation. Given that GoDaddy is not new to the crisis
scene, a communication plan is likely already been established.
However, given their poor response to the recent outage, it seems
their crisis communications plan is in need of some serious
By Amey Owen, Account Coordinator at
Solomon McCown & Company