Erasing Ted

It has been interesting to watch the evolution of Ted Haggard’s and New Life Church’s Web sites as the Haggard scandal unfolds. Initially, New Life’s site made no reference to the scandal. Yesterday they added links to letters from Ted Haggard and his wife. Other than that, there’s not much information on their site about the scandal. Ted Haggard’s site hasn’t been updated, but the links in the first page’s footer of his site to organizations that he’s associated with don’t work. The footer links work from other pages in the site. It appears the National Association of Evangelicals is in the process of updating their site, because I encountered some dead links and error messages.

Scandals like this bring to the forefront how important it is for organizations to include their Web sites in their communications planning. I’m sure all these organizations have plans for how they address the media during a scandal, but I’m guessing their Web sites aren’t included. Instead, they’re probably waiting for a technical person to come in and update the sites. The sad thing is that the technical person can only remove links and delete paragraphs. It’s not up to the technical person to decide what stays and what goes.

The New Life Church’s Web site essentially reflects the co-branding of “Pastor Ted” with New Life Church. There’s no way a technical person can or should decide how the site’s branding should change as a result of the scandal and Haggard’s subsequent termination. When I went to the site last night I was surprised to see that I could still download the latest podcast from Pastor Ted. The page eventually blew up on me so I guess I’m not the only one who’s curious to know the extent to which New Life will erase Pastor Ted from their site.

Do you have a plan for updating your Web site when a scandal or disaster occurs? Often times I think organizations look really dumb when their Web sites reflect business as usual when the rest of us know that something really big is going on.

Update: Ted Haggard’s site and the New Life site are both updated. Ted’s site removed the navigation, but all the pages are still there. So if you have a bookmark you can still navigate to all his site’s content. It looks like New Life is on their way to erasing Ted.