ARRL made a comment in an update yesterday about some members “believe [ARRL] should be openly communicating everything [emphasis added] associated with this incident.” That’s not what this member has been suggesting. The update goes on saying “[authorities] […] have directed us to be conservative and cautious with our communications.” I really hate to belabor this, and I’m not trying to Monday morning quarterback the event nor sound condescending, but this is really a teachable moment for ARRL, for whoever may be listening. Here’s my advice, carefully outlined:

  1. Post updates daily, even if it’s a short update. Anything.
  2. Put a human face with the response effort. This can be quite simple: just post a two minute video every other day with someone on the leadership team or someone tasked with public relations to say “hello”, “this is what we’re doing today”, “these are the challenges we’re facing”, “we got this!, ” and “be patient”. Even add some snarky humor. This is not that hard to do, but it maintains and builds reputation capital and a rapport with the community and stakeholders. I’ve been amazed over my career and in my personal dealings in the online world how far a face, humbleness, self-deprecating humor, and falling on your sword goes in a bad or challenging situation. This isn’t going to silence irrational critics, of which there are plenty, but for 95% of the people out there, it works.
  3. Technical details which, if made public, may compromise the investigation are separate from details regarding the restoration efforts. Don’t stand behind an investigation, it just gives a sense of secrecy and a lack of transparency and frankness.
  4. Service restoration ETAs should be communicated from day one, and with each update. Even if an ETA is “we don’t know yet” or the ETA is in weeks, rather than hours or days, it’s much better than nothing.
  5. Enumerate what services are affected, as soon as the scope is known, and track them throughout the ongoing communications. Initially to the outsider this appeared to be just an LOTW outage. It turned out this also affected the phone system and various administrative systems used to provide other services and publishing of periodicals.

I honestly hope this is my last post on this. For ARRL leadership there are takeaways from this event beyond technical issues. Technical issues can be fixed with expertise, money, and time. Cultural issues are much more challenging.

This article was originally posted on Radio Artisan.

Anthony, K3NG, is a regular contributor to

2 Responses to “Advice”

  • Jim/K2JJK:

    Great advice. Especially about putting a face on it. This is basic common crustose.
    Thanks for posting. jim

  • Jim KX0U:

    This is very good advice. Often, wisdom is about finding the best middle ground. There’s no good reason to handle it as a choice between telling almost nothing for so long, vs telling everything. That dichotomy is a straw man.

    Handling an event like this should always include a “lessons learned” analysis after it’s all over. Let’s hope advice like yours will be factored into that process with this event.

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