Lars Voedisch, Founder and Managing Director of PRecious Communications was featured in Marketing Interactive’s ‘PR News’ section on 03 April, 2019, in an article titled ‘PR in the era of cyber attacks: Winning back public trust after a data breach’. Recently, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong appointed a Data Security Review Committee to conduct a comprehensive review of data security practices across the public sector. This came up, especially after a series of data breaches, with the most recent being the leak of 800,000 blood donors’ personal particular, which was the result of mishandling of data by a vendor of the Health Sciences Authority. That’s not all – this happened shortly after details of HIV-diagnosed individuals’ was leaked, and SingHealth database was infiltrated.
Here is Lars’ comment as featured in Marketing Magazine’s article ‘PR in the era of cyber attacks – Winning back public trust after a data breach’
“For government agencies, the expectation is set higher than for companies as cost-saving or negligence on security matters are less acceptable.
While it is understandable that the government had to make that decision in the interest of data protection, this might have created the perception of not being completely upfront about important issues. The decision to name Deputy Prime Minister Teo and other high ranking ministers in the committee helps to communicate the seriousness with which the government is tackling the issue.”
Why Are We Talking About Winning Back Public Trust After a Data Breach?
When there is a crisis like a data breach, it is important to have an effective PR strategy to help in reducing the damage caused to a company’s reputation (more so, in the case of government agencies). In such cases, timing is everything. According to a survey conducted by the security firm Centrify, 30% of the consumers who had been affected by a breach discontinued their relationship with the affected organisation. This is mainly because these brands or agencies have delayed notifying customers about the hack. While agencies think this protects their interests, customers feel it puts them at risk. So, every time an agency delays putting out information in the public domain, the consumers feel the stolen data has already been sold on the black market, and this damages the brand reputation even more.
It is also observed that quick and transparent response in such cases is the best way to restore brand reputation. According to Centrify.com, companies that responded to a breach and were quick to self-report the event saw their stock value recover after an average of seven days. Companies that took longer to respond saw their stock price decline over a 90-day period. This is why it is important to reveal it all, instead of holding back.
Also, a sincere apology from the agency or brand really helps; of course, it must be followed by substantial action. This shows the consumer that the company has empathy and concern for those impacted by the data breach.
Companies who are transparent might still have to fight a battle, but rest assured it might not be too long!