With data breaches running rampant these days, how confident are you that your data is fully protected? Have you even considered the potential that a data breach could affect you or your company? According to Mondo’s amazingly informative infographic on data breaches, which covers their occurrence rates, costs and trends, hackers exposed the personal information of 47% of US adults in 2014 alone, and the average US business handles 10,000 security alerts a day. As the organizational cost associated with data breaches skyrockets to an average of $6.5 million, your business simply can’t afford to ignore the facts, and you must be prepared. Educate yourself about the potential risks of data breaches, create a data security breach team that will be able to react quickly and prepare a plan to preserve your hard-earned reputation.
Your online reputation is how others see you when searching online, and just one data breach can tarnish it and destroy your livelihood. It takes years to build a reputation, and mere seconds to destroy it. Be prepared to protect it AND minimize brand damage.
Online reputation management is the process of monitoring and addressing search engine result pages and social media platforms in order to influence and/or control the public’s perception of your organization. And, in the case of a data breach, it is focused on repairing malicious content and negative perceptions. By being cyber resilient, you will help your organization prepare for, and deal with, the severe impacts of future unpredictable, and unavoidable, cyber threats.
Prepare for a Breach to Minimize the Possibility of It Happening
One of the best ways to perform reputation management after a data breach is to be prepared for it before it happens:
- Have a tested plan and delegation strategy in place so that, if a breach occurs, it can be activated immediately.
- Create a data security breach team that includes an expert in reputation management and PR.
- Make sure that all employees (or suppliers) know who the breach team’s point of contact is.
Another important aspect of preparation is to be in control of your brand’s search results before it spirals out of control. A large majority of customers are guaranteed to use the internet to search for information before making a purchase, as well as to make the purchase itself.
- Set up a Google alert utilizing search terms that identify your business and product. This will help you to respond quickly to conversations involving your brand.
- Start a website, blog and social media profiles to establish yourself as a knowledgeable professional within your niche and support a positive reputation. Do not neglect Search Engine Optimization (SEO) either, it will help ensure that positive information shows up on the Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs).
- Consistently engage your followers to establish your brand identity and share your company’s values and core beliefs.
Respond Quickly and Intelligently after a Breach
There are 3 integral factors to helping facilities get back on track quickly after a data breach: the constructive management of responsibility, the restoration of your brand and the prevention of customer migration.
Constructive Management of Responsibility:
First and foremost – gather the facts and go public with a single announcement that presents a consistent message, as well as a unified front to customers and stakeholders. And make sure to apologize and take responsibility, whether for the breach in general or the part you played in making it possible. Nobody likes the blame game.
Restoration of Your Brand:
This is when those Google Alerts will come in handy – they will let you know when something is posted about you and, if you are vigilant, give you a chance to respond immediately. The fastest and easiest place for an affected customer to lash out is on social media, so be prepared to promptly and empathically address any complaints or concerns.
Also, keep in mind both the positive and negative forms of reputation management:
- Positive Reputation Management – Create and promote positive information about your company. Highlight the positive steps you are taking to mitigate the effects of the data breach, as well as any community involvement activities you are currently involved in. If possible, encourage any stakeholders happy with your efforts, or any current customers happy with your services, to positively review your business.
- Negative Reputation Management – This starts with your prompt responses to any negative reviews or comments on social media. It also involves pushing down negative search results, such as reviews and statements, so they don’t appear on the first few SERPs, and getting inaccurate information removed from the internet.
Prevention of Customer Migration:
This is not a one-and-done process, it can take anywhere from 10 months to more than 2 years to restore your reputation after a data breach.
- When an affected customer looks at your website, make sure they have no trouble finding breach-related information. An FAQ section is easy to maintain and easy for users to navigate. Ensure that the tone is apologetic and understandable, and that the list of questions is extensive and all-inclusive.
- Nurture your employee’s relationships with your brand and customers. When employees are invested in a business and believe in its values and mission, they will communicate that to others, further spreading a positive reputation, as well as providing customers with an overall better experience that they will also talk about.
If you need any help or advice on reputation management, don’t hesitate to give us a call. You can also check out our blog, or follow us on Facebook and Twitter, for more information on digital marketing strategies.