Good public relations is a cornerstone of any long-running marketing campaign. Unfortunate though it may be, few companies will ever exist without encountering some sort of crisis. It is up to marketers and PR experts to keep those mistakes from tarnishing the brand’s image. Here are two examples, one good and one bad, from recent headlines.
In mid-April, a group of hackers targeted an online community, breaking into 130 servers. The personal data for 77 million users, along with 12.3 million credit card accounts were taken. All online services were immediately taken down, but without explanation. Nearly a week later, the company finally released a press statement about the intrusion warning people of possible credit card fraud and identity theft. Until this press release, the attack was downplayed, denied, and covered up. A class-action lawsuit filed earlier this week, if won, will be the only reparations these customers receive.
Meanwhile, within days of that incident, a separate online community discovered that they may have also been targeted in the same hacking attack. Less than 24 hours after the discovery, the company released public warnings to 24.6 million users, along with an apology, a promise for improved security, and the possibility of identity protection for any affected victims.
What’s the twist here? Both of these examples come from the same company; Sony Computer Entertainment America. It seems baffling that the same company, with the same PR team, would have such drastically different approaches to the exact same problem. Still, we can do little but scratch our heads, because that seems to be what has happened. After spending almost a full week blatantly lying about such a massive data breach, the public image of the company dropped drastically. It did not help matters that many tech blogs were reporting the Playstation Network security breach story long before Sony ever owned up to it.
The unfortunate result is that when similar intrusion was found in the company’s online game community, Sony Online Entertainment, their seemingly transparent PR comes off as insincere. It is hard to give them credit for admitting to the fault when they had already been caught with both hands in the cookie jar.
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