With every data breach a company’s brand is at risk and a each CEO’s reputation is at stake.  

It is estimated that there are over 730,000 cyber attacks per day and the problem is going to get worse.  

How a company works to minimize its’ risk before a breach occurs and how the executive management team responds once attacked can save or preserve the reputation of the company and the future of its CEO.

Executives need to be prepared to handle any crisis with the advice and counsel of legal, IT and their public relations (PR) team. With many CEOs now being held personally responsible for mistakes made by their organization, having a plan in place, being prepared to talk about difficult issues in advance, and having the tools and resources readily available and accessible to respond instantly, should be a vital component of any risk management strategy. 

Key elements of a crisis communications plan include:

Plan Ahead + Act Fact

Damage to a brand can occur in the moments it takes to respond to any crisis. As a result, when something happens you need to be ready to respond — immediately. Systems need to be in place that trigger a need to respond.

 This incudes retaining a crisis communications expert. You should hire someone early before a crisis ever happens to learn your company’s culture, understand the company’s politics and identify where it may be vulnerable to create the plans to minimize risk and help put the plans in place to respond if necessary. However, just don’t hire a PR firm, you should retain someone who has experience in handling crises and other difficult situations in addition to being able to work with legal, IT and other professionals. 

Know when to respond & how

This includes knowing who you stakeholders are, what media they read, watch and listen to and how they like to receive information and updates. This will help with the messages you need to convey.

Deal with the issue

  • Try to get as much information as possible:
  • What are the facts?
  • What do you know and what do you need to find out?
  • Be upfront, even if you don’t know all the facts

Good bad or ugly, CEOs need to face the realities of the situation, acknowledge what happened and move quickly to resolve the issue.  If it is a problem caused by the company than you should apologize (admit where you were wrong - Check with legal firs), acknowledge the human factor if relevant and provide solutions.

Tell the story (first)

You need to tell the story first. If you don’t you loose control and react to what others are saying. Stick to the facts, share information as you know it and be accessible — or at least have a spokesperson accessible and a PR firm working on the issue. 

Stop + Look & Listen

While you need to act fast (actually faster given mobile and social media today), you need to take a deep-breathe and think before you act. Don’t let your emotions empower you and don’t take things personally. The situation demands control and a clear and level head.   In fact, that is why you should have a crisis communications professional available — that is what we do.