Government, media and public reaction to Yahoo's massive data breach could do for cyber-privacy what The Jungle did for the meat-packing industry.
Congresspeople are again calling for a notification standard requiring consumers to be told about a data breach "in a more timely manner," a phrase that means nothing until lobbyists and activists representing a dozen different agendas fight it out. But there will be some form of federal regulation, where none exists currently.
Read on below about the four considerations that make cybercrime a uniquely complicated corporate PR crisis:
Bad News Handbook -- With cybercrime against U.S. corporations increasing beyond already epidemic levels, its victims remain largely ambivalent about when, why and how to communicate about it.
According to the advocacy group Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, U.S. companies have been hit with more than 2,600 significant network hacks and breaches since 2010. Yet the Wall Street Journal reports that in that same period, barely one percent of all publicly traded corporations disclosed any cyber-crimes in their Securities Exchange Commission filings – an apparently glaring contradiction in this era of hyper-transparency.
For some of these companies it’s also a precarious position. Consider the potential fallout should a company be forced by events or law to disclose a significant data breach, which in turn unveils previous incidents that were kept hidden from investors and customers.
So why are so few companies not communicating beyond what's required by current disclosure regulations? Here’s one reason: As a reputation risk management problem, a network hack or data breach constitutes a uniquely complex corporate PR crisis:
It’s no wonder that senior execs are more concerned with managing cyber threats than with almost any other risk to their companies’ reputations.
And it’s why many tried-and-true rules for crisis communications no longer apply.
(CorpComm Blog) How'd you like to slog off to work every morning knowing that your customers don’t trust you? That sums up the life of local journalists, say two recent reports. Here’s why it matters: Because it will likely skew how your town's news media cover your company’s next PR crisis.
A recent Gallup Poll found that barely three out of every ten Americans trust what they see in the news. And on CareerCast’s 2016 list of the 200 worst jobs, newspaper reporter ranked dead last, with broadcasters taking bragging rights for being only the nation’s third-worst career. The annual list takes into account working environment, income, growth potential and stress factors.
Of all which means that too many local reporters are overworked, underpaid, unappreciated and isolated in newsrooms that have neither time nor money to let them truly engage and understand the arenas they cover – especially the business world. This can lead to a fatalistic, cynical view of the world that steers even talented reporters down the path of least resistance, characterized by shallow, clichéd conflict stories that provide inaccurate or no context, and that give equal weight to any “contrasting” source, no matter its lack of credibility.
For companies responding to complex crisis situations, this dog-tired and formulaic approach to journalism can result in undeserved damage to their hard-earned reputation.
While it certainly doesn’t exist in every market, it’s important to anticipate this predisposition to fast-food local journalism, especially if your company’s crisis communications strategy is to speak with reporters. The best way to prepare -- aside from knowing your facts, messaging and how to handle interviews -- is to deliver as much concrete, articulate information as possible. Dish it up on the proverbial silver platter in easily digestible portions.
A seasoned and solid journalist will appreciate the directness, which will help ensure an accurate story. And for the over-worked and disconnected reporter, the closer you approach “add water and stir,” the better the chances the resulting story will accurately represent your company's position. Quite often it’ll be included verbatim.
What’s happened to local journalism – and especially local business reporting – is tragic. But the unvarnished reality is that today’s lean media environment, with its ratings pressures and “pay by the click” compensation, forces many local reporters into being glorified stenographer-provocateurs looking for edgy or emotional angles.
Be aware and ready.
(CorpComm Blog) -- When Facebook deleted the famous “Napalm girl” photograph because it violated policy on showing nude children, the Norwegian newspaper editor who posted it wagged a rather sanctimonious finger at CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
"The media have a responsibility to consider publication [of stories] in every single case," wrote Espen Egil Hansen, editor at Norway’s largest newspaper, in an open letter to Mr. Zuckerberg. "This right and duty, which all editors in the world have, should not be undermined by algorithms encoded in your office in California."
The historically iconic photograph was allowed after a loud show of protest and support from Facebook members around the world -- a response that underscores the collective power of social media communities to police themselves on standards. The outcome of this dispute was as it should be.
However. In reporting the reversed deletion, the world's news media -- some behaving like this was another Scopes trial -- failed to emphasize that the Norwegian newspaper was using Facebook first and foremost as a no-cost marketing tool. “You are offering us a great channel for distributing our content,” Hansen wrote. “We want to reach out with our journalism.” (So do other business concerns besides newspapers.)
But then Mr. Hansen told “dear Mark” that “Even though I am editor-in-chief of Norway’s largest newspaper… you are restricting my room for exercising my editorial responsibility.”
Post me confused.
I read through Facebook’s entire investor prospectus. And nowhere is there anything about the company being beholden to anyone’s “exercising of editorial responsibility.”
Especially to a commercial newspaper using Facebook for free publicity and promotion.
Over time, the clunky synergy between social and news media will either achieve mutually-beneficial equilibrium or reshape itself completely, like home pages and other content aggregation movements of the internet age. Mr. Zuckerberg sees this as making Facebook the "perfect personalized newspaper for everyone in the world."
Even if that's where things are headed, we should be cautious about holding Facebook and other corporate-owned social media services accountable for not behaving like the news journalism companies they aren’t.
Delivering the milk doesn’t make you a cow.
(CorpComm Blog) -- Five takes on EpiPen, virtual reality, surrender ceremonies, Roger’s fall and how Donald Trump’s campaign is like one very long Twitter feed. I don't know, but that is what people are telling me, it’s so beautiful. Really really something. And it’s going to be amazing, believe me.
Influence Chronicles Blog
Field notes on the forces and sources of public truth.
Influence Chronicles blog and executive e-letter are published by SilversJacobson, a corporate reputation and crisis management firm based in Denver and Washington, D.C. Call anytime at (720) 645-1164.
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