I received an interesting comment back regarding my recent report, Best Practices: Online Crisis Management: 30 Top Colleges/Universities Respond to Katrina. Morty Schapiro, the President of Williams [disclosure: I attended Williams], argued against my ding in the report against Amherst:
Two weeks after Katrina, Grinnell College and Harvey Mudd College still hadn’t acknowledged Katrina on their homepages; Amherst College did so, but rather slowly, finally putting up a press release (and eventually a Katrina page) on the afternoon of September 5th, a week after the disaster and three days after its peers.
Morty noted in an e-mail: "Amherst wasn't slow at all -- they were working extremely hard with Xavier from the very beginning." I'm sure they were (Xavier is a college in the south that Amherst was working with to receive students from). However, the important thing is, Amherst didn't tell anyone. Companies -- and in this case colleges -- forget, especially in a crisis, that unless it's on the Web site, no one outside of the institution knows what's going on.
To alumni and prospective students, it just looked like Amherst was twiddling its thumbs after Katrina, especially in contrast to colleges such as Williams and others who had Katrina statements up by the Thursday or Friday before Labor Day.
So while reporters and analysts talk about the latest whizbang feature, sometimes the best value that companies can get is not to buy the latest gadget, but rather make sure that they're using what they have in a timely manner. A simple rule, but enterprises violate it time and time again.