In times of crisis, who you gonna Talk Talk to?

by Chris Fairbairn

Friday, November 13th, 2015

From Crisis Management to Tech Press Experts, there is one PR agency north of the Border equipped to handle your reputation when hackers hit.

 

In a crisis, who are you gonna Talk Talk to?Cyber fraud can very much feel like a scary shadow, hanging menacingly over modern business. It can make them feel like the surfer who has just caught the outline of the great white circling beneath his polyurethane board.

In short it’s terrifying, mysterious and can feel near impossible to fight.

So when the unimaginable happenand an alleged 15 year old gamer from Northern Ireland (or Russian militant depending which report you read), cripples the business, threatening with a ransom note demanding a money exchange for sensitive information on all your customers – well you’re left on a wobbling tightrope.

Credibility

It can seem like these hacks occur only to large businesses, as it is those that tend to hit the headlines, whereas small to mid size firms keep quiet in order to save face.

But it is an evolving problem which increasingly affects customer service and therefore needs to be confronted, much like the Glasgow Hairdressing chain, Ellen Conlin, which recently had its databases shutdown and encrypted, just days after the TalkTalk scandal – again with a ransom note demanding money for their systems to resume to normal service.

It’s not always easy to know what exactly to do, how to reassure clients, or how to cope with probing journalist enquiries.

When the glare of the media spotlight is turned on you, be sure you have support of public relations experts to weather the storm.

But you need more than just that. You need advice from PR experts who not only understand the issue but are also able to decipher complex phraseology and the odd bit of technobabble – ensuring that your messages are strong, reaffirming and don’t just limit the damage but bring a bit of positivity back to your business’s reputation.

SBRC

Our client, the Scottish Business Resilience Delivery Centre (SBRC), is Police Scotland and the Scottish Government’s Business Delivery Arm and as such is the body tasked with helping Scottish businesses prepare to deal with the cyber threat.

The SBRC carries out hugely valuable work in the field and trusts Holyrood PR with ensuring its services are known about and its name is synonymous with the topic. When cyber fraud hit the top of the news agenda last week, Director Mandy Haeburn-Little was in high demand – and featured on STV news and was interviewed by The Times.

We quickly helped the SBRC put a statement together, which later appeared on BBC News website and on the inside cover of the Daily Record, Scotland’s ‘national’ paper with a circulation typically in excess of 300,000.

Tech Experts

It’s not just with the SBRC that we showcase strengths that position us as the PR experts when an attack hits. We have demonstrated over the past few years that we are the storytelling experts when it comes to presenting technical stories in an understandable and interesting manner.

Crisis PREarlier this year, our clients Commsworld and CityFibre launched Edinburgh as a Gigabit City – supercharging Internet speeds in the capital by installing a 150km network of pure fibre cabling.

The impact this will have on Businesses in Edinburgh is phenomenal, but the benefits could so easily have been lost in what is a technical and often difficult subject.

However, before, during and after the launch we were able to generate a huge amount of excitement – and column inches – which helped Commsworld and CityFibre smash their key business objectives, as outlined in this coverage post.

Crisis Management

Okay so we may be trusted by the body that is equipped with the tools to help Scottish businesses prevent damaging cyber attacks, and we may be able to break down difficult technical information and present it effectively.

But how can we help when a full blown crisis takes hold?

To put it simply, we have previous. Earlier this year, when an oily substance was discovered in the water supply affecting tens of thousands of homes, Scottish Water found itself to be in an immediate media crisis.

We then helped Scottish water deal with the ensuing media frenzy, dealing with calls from journalists ‘with the bit between their teeth’. Our team found that when thrown into this high pressure environment, our day to day background helped us respond calmly and succinctly, while appreciating the enormity of the situation.

As well as traditional public relations, our day to day work incorporates social media management for many clients. So when the going gets tough, we have the experience and know-how to tell your stories to different audience over all channels.

We spoke from a CIPR Scotland event hosted by Investis who talked to us about how important digital channels are in a crisis.


Why we won’t make a drama out of a crisis – keeping calm in a PR storm at Scottish Water


What could have been a disaster turned out to be a well managed, strongly messaged media response, answering questions, highlighting positives and protecting the reputation of the utility giant.

Our team even drew the praise of Scottish Water Chief Executive, Douglas Millican, who was especially grateful for the role played by our agency in averting the crisis.


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Chris Fairbairn of Scottish public relations agency, Holyrood PR in Edinburgh

Chris Fairbairn

Chris Fairbairn is a PR account manager with award-winning public relations agency Holyrood Partnership. He is part of an expert PR team delivering PR services to a wide range of clients from headquarters in Edinburgh, Scotland.

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