High profile data breach

The challenge

fowlstone was brought in when a high profile, consumer-facing company experienced a breach of a significant amount of sensitive customer data.

The issue of cyber security was high on the media agenda, giving additional currency to the matter, and the large number of individuals affected increased the likely level of public scrutiny.

Furthermore, a complex set of circumstances had opened the company up to the prospect of criticism around its response to the breach.

fowlstone’s approach

At the core of the strategy was an authentic apology and an acknowledgement of the emotion in the situation, given the highly sensitive data that had been exposed.

By carefully framing the narrative to move the focus away from the company’s key areas of vulnerability, we successfully minimised the criticism that the company received.

We took a proactive approach with customers, and created a dedicated ‘forum’ for them to raise concerns, in order to minimise the overspill into other media types. In particular, a highly effective social media strategy aimed to take heated posters offline wherever possible.

The results

This approach resulted in well balanced media coverage; the narrative was successfully reframed, and the issue was largely dealt with in one news cycle.

As we had anticipated, commentary on social media was more heated as this was driven by impacted customers; however we saw a large number of customers taking on the role of endorsers of the company unprompted, defending its actions and correcting misinformation by other posters.

The company was praised by a number of customers both on social media and directly for its handling of the issue, in particular its proactive communications with customers.