Your 2015 PR Resolution: Add a data breach section to your crisis manual

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If we keep up at this pace, hackers may very well be Time’s 2015 “Person of the Year.” By now, we’re all familiar with the Sony/The Interview/North Korea saga, where North Korea allegedly hacked Sony’s servers—releasing loads of damaging emails, contract details and the like—with the United States allegedly shutting down the country’s Internet for 36 hours in response.

Then over the holidays, news broke that Amazon was hacked, putting thousands of passwords and credit card numbers online. As an Amazon Prime evangelist, this one struck a nerve—especially after I found out my credit card was used to buy a cup of coffee in Brazil. (Note: I was not, nor have I ever been, in Brazil.)

And finally this week at the annual Consumer Electronic Show, The New York Times noted how the Internet of Things is ushering in a new era for gadgets—and clothing for that matter. (Think Internet-connected ceiling fans.) But as you can imagine, having virtually every personal and home device online in some capacity creates some enormous security concerns, which companies are still grabbling to figure out.

Back in October, I attended a seminar on the future of PR and big data at the International PRSA Conference, led by Kathy Stershic of Dialog Research & Communications. Her advice for PR professionals: the question is no longer if your company will experience a data breach, but when you will experience one. Like any crisis, how you respond when that day comes will have a huge impact on your organization’s reputation—and most likely your bottom line. If it isn’t there already, you might want to add a data breach section to your crisis communications manual at some point in 2015.

(Image: "WinonaSavingsBankVault" by Jonathunder – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons)

Greg Surber

Greg Surber, APR, is a public relations strategist through and through. He works on a variety of accounts, leading research projects and content strategies, but he also has extensive experience with more traditional PR efforts including national and trade media relations campaigns.

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