InfluenceChronicles.com -- 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.
By Steven Silvers -- 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. And it influences how your local newspaper or TV Action News Team covers your company’s next crisis.
A 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.
Too many local reporters are overworked, underpaid and isolated in newsrooms that have neither time nor money to let them engage and understand the arenas they cover – especially the business world.
Too often this leads to a cynical world view that steers even talented business reporters down the path of least resistance, characterized by shallow controversy stories lacking accuracy or context, often giving equal weight to “contrasting” sources regardless of their actual lack of credibility.
For companies responding to complex crisis situations, this 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 it's reality. Today's lean media environment, with its ratings pressures and “pay by the click” compensation, forces too many local business reporters into being glorified stenographer-provocateurs looking for edgy, emotional conflict angles.
Be aware and ready.
InfluenceChronicles.com -- When Facebook deleted the iconic “Napalm girl” photograph because it violated policy on showing nude children, the Norwegian newspaper editor who posted it wagged a 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."
Facebook allowed the photo after members around the world protested -- underscoring the power of social media communities to police themselves. The outcome was as it should be.
But in reporting the reversal, most news media -- some treating the controversy like it was another Scopes trial -- failed to clarify that the commercial Norwegian newspaper was using Facebook first and foremost as a free marketing and publicity tool. “You are offering us a great channel for distributing our content,” Hansen wrote. “Even though I am editor-in-chief of Norway’s largest newspaper… you are restricting my room for exercising my editorial responsibility.”
It's doubtful that Mr. Hansen read through Facebook's investor prospectus to find where it says the company is beholden to his “exercising of editorial responsibility.” Because it's not there.
Here's the thing about the internet. Over time, the relationship between social and news media will either achieve mutually-beneficial equilibrium or reshape itself completely -- just like what happened with personal home pages and other content aggregation platforms. Mr. Zuckerberg sees this as making Facebook the "perfect personalized newspaper for everyone in the world."
However things play out, 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.
InfluenceChronicles.com -- 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.
InfluenceChronicles.com -- Atlantic Monthly laments with us Baby Boomers the demise of advertising jingles, which have greatly died out since Pepsi's 1984 production with Michael Jackson established today's marketing marriage between brands and popular music.
But how many of those campaigns have millions of loyal fans who even 43 years later know every word to Oscar Mayer’s iconic My Bologna Has A First Name? Sing it, citizen consumers:
My bologna has a first name
My bologna has a second name
I love to eat it everyday
And if you ask me what I'll saaaaaaay
Cuz Oscar Mayer has a way with B-o-l-o-g-n-a
By Steven Silvers -- Brand and reputation. It’s a critical distinction that drives a company’s ability to minimize the impact of its next public relations crisis.
Brand is how your company talks to the world.
Reputation is how the world hears your company.
Some people say reputation and brand mean the same thing. That's like saying the pitch and the swing are the same because they’re part of one baseball game.
Closely related, but very different.
Reputation risk management is a paradox. On one hand a company's reputation is its most important asset. On the other hand it's the asset most vulnerable to damage by conditions that may be out of a company’s control.
A brand is a promise, but more than just deliverables. It’s what the brand’s owner needs people and institutions that matter to believe to be true.
Reputation, on the other hand, is what those stakeholders and influencers actually believe. It's a mix of personal experiences and influences, all weighed against motivations that drive every decision to trust a brand, buy a product or support an idea:
The wider the gap between a company's brand and reputation, the more potentially damaging a controversy or crisis.
However, the more a corporate and brand reputation jive with what stakeholders want to believe, the stronger the company’s ability to navigate and even prosper through bad markets, complex public issues and crisis events.
It’s no wonder that companies with solidly good reputations have market caps of 30 to 70 percent more than their book value.
Illustration courtesy Huffington Post.
InfluenceChronicles.Com -- National Public Radio has joined the growing number of online media outlets that no longer show public comments at the bottom of news stories.
In case you’re new to this WWW thing: Many comment sections have been commandeered by small groups of mostly anonymous "trolls" who shout down and ridicule anyone with opposing opinions, often with incredibly violent imagery and hate speech. And don't get us started about punctuation.
Many news sites held on – and still do -- to comment sections in part because they create space to sell ads, without the nuisance of paying journalists for content. These days, however, social media platforms offer more civil, cost-efficient ways to facilitate public dialogue around sponsors’ interests. The result is that media sites are dropping comment sections as a well-intentioned but failed, high-maintenance vestige of a simpler Internet time.
But not all. One ticked-off supporter of comment sections is Breitbart News, the hyper-populist, anti-lefty media site whose chairman is now running Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.
Hostile partisan vitriol is what outlets like Breitbart and the anti-righty Daily Kos are selling, and they have plenty of followers (including trolls). But these aren’t products that attract mainstream advertisers and promotions. It’s commerce, not comments, that keep most online media in business.
Time Magazine underscores the problem with its cover story, “How Trolls are ruining the Internet.” Some 80% of the 93-year-old magazine's own writers said they don't cover certain topics because they fear the online response. Sometimes the attackers will track down and harass a writer's spouse, parents, even children.
Despite America’s chaotically contradictory Internet culture, it would seem that the bulk of news comment sections are heading toward extinction as new ways to engage the virtual public square become more advanced. What the Internet mob does as a result is a whole other consideration.
InfluenceChronicles.Comm -- A new survey says three-fourths of corporate data theft is caused by “insider negligence” -- a nice way of saying “companies that for some reason still let employees do internal email while connected to a free wi-fi service.”
As many companies and politicians learned the hard way, hackers love stealing emails in part because of the whacky fun that ensues when made public. And cybercrooks are becoming steadily more proficient in how they leak e-plunder to mess with the victim’s reputation and operations for as long as possible.
Here's the kicker: More than 60 percent of those surveyed said they have access to company data that they shouldn’t see. "Too many employees have too much access to the company’s most valuable information," said the lead researcher. “Beyond what they need to do their jobs."
Worse still, a third of those companies don’t monitor any of the email their people are sending and receiving, including file attachments.
Change is coming. As the cybercrime epidemic continues, companies and organizations will begin compartmentalizing more information to the old “need to know” standard. How much that mitigates cyber-related reputation risk… We’ll see.
There’s more at The Wall Street Journal Risk Report.
Illustration | My Security World blog: Eight things to stop doing immediately
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