Its 5:42 p.m. on a Friday. John, the owner of a small manufacturing company, is leaving work to meet with Jennifer, his banker, for dinner. After five years in business, John’s company is profitable and moving in the right direction. He is meeting Jennifer to discuss getting a loan to invest in new equipment for the factory.
John’s cell phone rings and its Stephanie, his corporate counsel. Her voice is very serious. “John, we have a problem,” she says. “Mark in IT just told me we’ve had a data breach. A hacker has broken into our systems and stolen customer information as well as business data from our vendors. What do we do?”
John tells Stephanie, “I’m meeting Jennifer about the loan in 20 minutes. I’ll get back to you.” John pulls over and shakes his head. What do I tell Jennifer? What do we do next?
A data breach can harm a business, especially a small business, in a number of ways:
- Small and midsize businesses are the top targets for cybercriminals, suffering breaches more often than larger firms.
- 60% of small businesses close their doors within six months of a data breach.
- 20% of customers whose data is breached will leave immediately.
- It can take from 7 to 11 months for a firm to restore its reputation or brand value after a data breach.
Simply put, effectively managing your firm’s relations with the public and your clients in the aftermath of a data breach is vitally important. Using a public relations firm can help salvage your firm’s reputation after a data breach by:
- Providing you the resources to effectively respond to and communicate with your customers and the public following a data breach. This involves using all channels of communication, including the press, social media, and call centers.
- Allowing you as the business owner to publicly define the situation and how you plan on moving forward rather than “being defined” by the media, rumors, and irate comments.
- Developing a comprehensive strategy to communicate with your customers in order to rebuild trust in your company and your brand.
- Identifying key stakeholders you need to communicate with.
In short, using a public relations service is critical to restoring confidence in your firm following a data breach. Not using these services may increase the chance of declining profits, lost clients, and possibly bankruptcy.
When shopping for data breach coverage, a business owner (like John in the beginning) would be well served to purchase a data breach coverage offering that includes public relations services.
For more on protecting your business from a data breach, watch our video above. Has your company been a victim of a data breach? Please share your experience.
 Bender, Hannah. “5 Big Cyber Threats for Small Businesses” http://www.propertycasualty360.com/2014/05/29/5-big-cyber-threats-for-small-businesses?ref=hp. May 29, 2014.
 Hillebrand, Melissa. “Infographic: Is Your Business At Risk For Data Breach?” http://www.propertycasualty360.com/2014/06/18/infographic-is-your-business-at-risk-for-data-brea?ref=hp . June 18, 2014.
 Ponemon Institute “Reputation Impact of a Data Breach” http://www.experian.com/assets/data-breach/white-papers/reputation-study.pdf