Data breaches are very common – more common than you might think. As awful as this type of crisis is, it would be even more awful if the company handled the crisis poorly. PR is a huge aspect of every company, and it determines how the public and the media perceive you. Reputation and image are crucial when running any business, so knowing how to handle a situation properly is necessary.

The best option, though, is to avoid facing a data breach altogether. Ensure that you’re using enterprise-grade cybersecurity software such as a VPN. What is a VPN? This tool secures your internet connection and keeps hackers from getting their hands on your valuable information.

Lastly, educate your employees on how to handle sensitive data because the leading cause of data breaches is human error. Mistakes happen all the time, so it’s important to be prepared for the worst. It might be an accident, but it still has a lot of consequences for the company. Any business should be ready to respond to such threats and be ready to make a statement if needed.

However, in some situations, a data breach can happen no matter how much you prepare to mitigate it. If you were not able to prevent the attack, then you need to focus on your communication.

Here are some tips on how to deal with PR the right way in case of a breach.

Preparation is the Key to Success

Every company that likes to be proactive about its security should devise a crisis management strategy in case of a data breach. Although these strategies are prone to changes, it is always great to have a system in place that will allow you to react more rapidly and enable your employees to follow the chain of command.

Data breaches have become an everyday occurrence, and they can happen to anyone, including your company. Consider creating a thorough communication plan that includes important protocols on how to respond to the situation. If and when a crisis occurs, the worst thing that could happen is to have disorder and waste time trying to create protocols and best practices on the spot.

Be Clear and Concise

When notifying the public about a breach, make sure to use simple language, and not go overboard with cyber terminology. It will confuse both the customers and the media. Consult with lawyers and the police beforehand, so they would give you advice on what you shouldn’t say. Sometimes, too much information can lead to complications.

There were cases where companies shared too much about the investigation, so the hackers had enough intel to hide their tracks and never get caught. Don’t rush and think about what is actually necessary.

Take Responsibility

Taking responsibility is very difficult and often comes with a certain number of consequences. However, it is the mature thing to do in case of a crisis. That can restore trust in your organization because customers will know that you’re honest and transparent. Tell the truth and clearly explain how you plan to remedy the situation.

Moreover, let everyone know about the steps you plan to take to prevent future data breaches. If something bad happens, you need to adapt to the situation quickly and prevent it from happening again.

Notify the Customers

It is imperative to inform your customers about the breach as soon as possible. That will show that you care, and it will also allow them to take the necessary steps to further protect their accounts and information. Moreover, it is illegal to conceal this type of information from customers. If you fail to perform your due diligence, you are also risking some hefty GDPR fines.

Some companies have failed this step, and the response from the customers was very negative. People want to be informed as much as possible, and keeping them in silence is not acceptable. Even a short message about the situation can be very beneficial after a data breach.

Ensure That Key Stakeholders Are Up-to-Date

When a data breach happens, including the top management in your crisis management strategy is a must. Not only that, but you should also notify the employees, so they would be ready to assist in remedying the problem. However, rumors can spread rather quickly, so don’t give out too much information. Sometimes, the cause may lie within the company.

Stakeholders should be aware of any changes within the company. Obviously, there is a lot of chaos in such situations, but don’t forget to update your partners. Also, they might be able to give you valuable advice.

Monitor All Media Outlets

Make sure that you’re up-to-date with every possible media outlet, including social media, because social media is a fertile ground for gossip, allegations, and misinformation. It is also essential to be aware of how the public is reacting to the situation. By knowing this information, you will be able to act accordingly and improve your strategy on-the-go.

Be ready to respond with an official statement if you see various gossips about your company. These fake stories can really damage your reputation even more. It’s important to keep your message neutral and don’t forget to keep emotions from getting too involved. That’s why it might be useful to prepare a neutral template in advance for such situations.

Learn from Past Examples

There have been numerous instances of data breaches, such as Target, eBay, and Snapchat, that were handled poorly. They either failed to disclose important information, didn’t take any responsibility, or let the data breach go completely unnoticed. On the bright side, there are many great examples, so catch up on both. You might find some great ideas or actionable advice that can make or break the situation.

How your company handles a crisis is a true indicator of how well it’s organized and structured. It can make or break your reputation, so devising a strategy in advance would be a smart choice.