Thursday, August 13, 2009

Got Hacked?

Last week saw Twitter’s fourth Internet security breach this year and still no good PR strategy—again only updates from their co-founder Biz Stone referring people to view the status on their Twitter blogs. For a phenomenon like Twitter, their company will be fine—there will still be plenty of Tweeters, but this begs the question—why do technology companies, such as Twitter, rely on internal blogs and internal strategies to deal with such a crisis? Why not have a PR agency on retainer for just these types of issues? Many companies react in a crisis because they get caught off guard when most emergencies are within a known possible threat category. Credit Card companies get hacked, social sites have Denial of Service Attacks, banks get robbed, etc. In a crisis such as this, the first thing a company needs to do is understand what they want to say, who they need to say it and who is the internal person that will say it. A PR agency can do just that—quickly and efficiently.

Technology companies that deal with or collect any sort of personal information can’t sit back and think they will never get hacked. Sites and networks are hacked each day and each of them is vulnerable. Case in point: in the not-so-distant past, a high school student with the Internet alias of MafiaBoy successfully launched a series of highly publicized denial-of-service attacks in February 2000 against large commercial websites including Yahoo!,, Dell, Inc., E*TRADE, eBay, and CNN. If these companies can get hit, so can yours!

And, as soon as word hits the news that your service has been compromised, your reputation is blown and you now have a PR issue at hand. You need to have a crisis communications plan and PR agency at the ready to field phone calls and develop answers to the inevitable questions that will make your clients and customers feel comfortable continuing to use your service.

Remember, your IT guys repair your systems to get to the bottom of your problem quickly, let your PR guys repair your reputation.

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