Wired PR Works by Barbara Rozgonyi

Real-izing Your Virtual Identity

Last Day for WorldWIT | PR Exit Strategies

Posted by barbararozgonyi on March 23, 2007

Today’s the last day for WorldWIT, one of the world’s largest networking groups for women online. But maybe it’s more accurate to say this is Liz Ryan’s last day as the leader of this pack. Gauging from all the tear-stained emails in the ChicWIT digest, I can tell there are hundreds of women who are taking a few moments to reflect on this loss today.

Yeah, our in boxes will be about 120 messages lighter every month. And, we won’t have to wade through digests loaded with messages about who’s looking for stuff we didn’t know existed. The good news is the daily distractor factor will definitely be turned down. Really, what’s to miss about losing a few hundred emails?

Perhaps this is techno-connecto loss [a new term I made up just for this occassion].

Personally, I dropped my ChicWIT subscription once only to find I missed getting the emails. Did I open them? Yes . . . about 40 % of the time. Every now and then I found a reason to want to reply to someone else’s post. Once a former consulting client found me. She emailed right away to thank me for referring her to ChicWIT – as did everybody else I ushered in.

Losing the emails isn’t much of a personal loss – in fact my last post brought in about a dozen offers from women I’d never met who want to connect on LinkedIn. What I will miss is the community spirit and the generousity of other women. It feels good to see so much giving going on.

Here’s the official announcement from the site:

WORLDWIT FOUNDER BEGINS NEW CHAPTER – WorldWIT to close on March 23, 2007 – After seven years of connecting women in 25 countries around the globe, we are turning a corner and moving on to new endeavors. Since 1999, WorldWIT provided free resources to support the advancement of women at the intersection of work and life. The non-fee-based email discussion groups allowed women get support in their careers, with business issues, on financial matters, with technology, and with a wide range of general life needs from attorneys to chiropractors to childbirth techniques. A multi-media content source, WorldWIT also produced WorldWIT Radio; a weekly html newsletter, Thinking Aloud; teleseminars; Web site columns; and blogs. However, WorldWIT founder Liz Ryan’s demanding speaking and training schedule prevented her from taking the self-funded WorldWIT to the next level. The final WorldWIT digests, including that of all 83 chapters, will be distributed on Friday, March 23. Members may continue to contact Liz Ryan through her blogs at: Minding Her Business blog: http://tinyurl.com/yxfk6u, and Networking the West blog: http://tinyurl.com/yr5y4u.

Giving an audience of 50,000 a two-day notice is a little abrupt, but that’s all we got. Is that the best PR exit strategy? It’s her business. It’s her choice. But, with all those names and connections setting up a redirect to something, somewhere makes sense to me. So, here’s how to get in touch with Liz:

Join the Ask Liz Ryan Yahoo! Group or visit her new site: http://www.asklizryan.com or post a comment on the Ask Liz Ryan Blog

Reading between the lines and checking in on her blogs, I’d say Liz was ready for a change. I’m betting we’ll see more of her in print and on the speaking circuit.

Now, about those PR exit strategies, here are three thoughts:

– consider who you’ll be leaving behind before you say good-bye. If you’re lucky enough to have a massive list of loyal followers, give them a way to stay connected. It’s as easy as setting up an opt-in form on your new site.

– allow enough time between the announcement and the closing date for media interviews to promote the new project

– find a way to redirect the emotions by rerouting the community to another resource or two that’s ready and willing to receive them

If it really is “That’s All Folks” then be prepared to respond to why what was there once is now no longer for a few years down the road. Sentimentality and attachments die hard, especially when the leader is loved and admired.

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