Technology and cybersecurity are increasingly important aspects of modern business operations, and this is especially true for public relations. In the digital age, keeping up with innovation is critical in maintaining a competitive edge. If competing businesses are utilizing artificial intelligence, conversation monitoring, and analytics software in their public relations processes and you aren’t, it’s only a matter of time before your company falls behind in understanding its current reputation and achieving the media coverage you’re hoping for.
Companies must also prioritize cybersecurity in order to protect their sensitive information and overall brand reputation. A data breach or cyber attack can have serious consequences, including loss of trust and significant financial losses. This article will provide valuable insights into the importance of cybersecurity in public relations, explore the risks of poor cybersecurity practices, and offer best practices for securing a strong company system.
Today, consumers are more conscious of how businesses protect their data and information, and a single data breach or cyber attack can have a severe impact on a company’s image. Poor cybersecurity practices can lead to a loss of customer trust, negative media coverage, and legal repercussions.
On the other hand, a company that prioritizes cybersecurity and implements effective technology can benefit from a positive reputation. By taking proactive steps to protect sensitive information, a business can demonstrate their commitment to data security and customer privacy, building trust and confidence among their stakeholders. Strong cybersecurity practices can also help a company avoid potential data breaches or cyber attacks, reducing the risk of reputation damage and associated financial losses.
Protecting Sensitive Data
Outdated technology can create vulnerabilities that can be exploited by cybercriminals, making it easier for them to breach a company’s systems and access sensitive data. A lack of cybersecurity protections can also make a company more susceptible to social engineering attacks such as phishing, where attackers use fraudulent emails or messages to trick employees into revealing sensitive information or granting access to company systems. These types of cyber attacks can cause significant harm, leading to data loss, theft, or exposure, as well as damage to a company’s reputation.
There have been several high-profile examples of companies experiencing major PR disasters due to data breaches in recent years. One is the Equifax data breach in 2017, which exposed sensitive personal information of around 143 million customers, including social security numbers, birth dates, and addresses. Equifax’s slow response and inadequate communication about the breach led to widespread public outrage and a loss of trust in the company’s ability to protect customer data.
More recently, it was Southwest Airlines that received backlash from the public. Southwest’s outdated systems and lack of redundancy created a major PR disaster that could have been avoided. The technical issue led to thousands of flight cancellations and delays, leaving passengers stranded and frustrated. The poor response from the airline only added to the negative publicity.
These situations highlight the importance of companies investing in up-to-date technology and having a plan in place to handle technical issues when they do arise. Inadequate technology and poor crisis management can quickly escalate into a storm of issues damaging the company.
Impact on Profits
As any PR professional knows, large crises can significantly impact the profitability of a business. In the Equifax example, it should also be noted that the negative media coverage and loss of customer trust resulted in a drop in revenue and stock price, with the company’s market value dropping by over one billion dollars.
Another example of a PR disaster related to technology that impacted a company’s revenue was the 2016 Yahoo data breach. As a result of the data breach, Yahoo faced legal and regulatory penalties, as well as a significant loss of revenue. The negative media coverage and loss of customer trust led to a decline in user engagement and a drop in advertising revenue, which was a significant source of Yahoo’s profits. The company’s market value also dropped, with its sale to Verizon ultimately being valued at $350 million less than the original sale price due to the reputational damage caused by the data breach.
Building Trust with Stakeholders
When a company invests in modern technology and implements strong cybersecurity measures, it demonstrates a commitment to protecting its stakeholders’ sensitive information and interests.
By investing in modern technology and cybersecurity practices, a company can provide a more reliable and efficient service to its customers, which can lead to increased customer satisfaction and loyalty. Additionally, the implementation of strong cybersecurity measures can give stakeholders peace of mind that their personal and financial information is being protected from cyber threats such as data breaches and cyber attacks. The goal when implementing a cybersecurity program is to show that your company is proactive in identifying and mitigating potential risks, and is committed to meeting the highest standards of data privacy and security.
Best Cybersecurity Practices for Maintaining a Positive Image
There are several best practices that companies can implement to ensure effective cybersecurity in public relations. These include:
1. Conduct regular security assessments: Companies should regularly perform security assessments to identify and address vulnerabilities in their technology infrastructure. This includes performing penetration testing, vulnerability scans, and code reviews to ensure that systems and applications are secure.
2. Educate employees on security best practices: Employees are often the first line of defense against cyber threats, so it’s important to provide regular training on security best practices. This can include training on identifying and reporting suspicious activity, avoiding phishing scams, and creating strong passwords.
3. Implement a strong password policy: A strong password policy can help prevent unauthorized access to sensitive information. This includes requiring employees to use strong, unique passwords, and implementing multi-factor authentication where possible.
4. Encrypt sensitive data: Companies should encrypt sensitive data both at rest and in transit to prevent unauthorized access. This includes encrypting data on storage devices and using secure protocols for transmitting data over networks.
5. Have a response plan in place: In the event of a cybersecurity incident, companies should have a plan in place for responding quickly and effectively. This includes identifying a response team, implementing a communication plan, and conducting regular testing and drills.
These practices are key in maintaining integrity, trust, and a positive reputation. Maintaining current technology and good cybersecurity is not just an option but a necessity for public relations.
Need some help implementing some of these tips interested in a free audit of your current practices? Contact RedPanda Systems to schedule a free consultation with us.