Imagine having been lazing on your sun lounger in a holiday resort at the weekend, enjoying the first few days of your much-needed break from the daily grind.
And then you pick up your tablet to flick through the news from back home and you find:
“Carphone Warehouse hackers may have accessed data of 2.4 million customers”.
Now imagine, as a customer of the brand, you’ve got to heed their apparent advice to ‘contact your bank’…while overseas….while on the phone which is contracted to…Oh yes, Carphone Warehouse!
All in all it’s a pretty lousy scenario for anyone to have to tackle. The fear we may have had our private information accessed because of a data breach is understandably becoming a modern day angst.
But now let’s look at what Carphone Warehouse did to ensure that we as their customers were going to feel supported, respected, communicated with, and reassured that everything in the brand’s power was being done to deal with the problem.
Well, understandably, the big gripe by customers appears to be that the company sat tight for at least a few days before revealing the breach.
What’s more, it seems the revelation was then received by customers only via mainstream media – something which loyal users of Carphone Warehouse say was wholly inappropriate.
Quite rightly, they wanted to have received personal contact from the company which has been taking money from their bank account on ongoing contracts for, in some cases, many years.
The point we see time and time again with scenarios like this one, are that customers are not always SO angry that the issue has happened (the breach, in this case) as that they have been treated as second-rate citizens when it comes to communication and interaction.
So yes, we as consumers accept that there is a case of some degree of inevitability about hackings and corporate crises etc, but what we don’t then want is to be the forgotten element. We want to be regarded as respected stakeholders.
Good PR doesn’t just mean Carphone Warehouse getting its media relations team to draft the press release and get it out to the journalists and commentators.
That’s not enough.
Good PR is internal, external, online based, offline based, in your behaviour, your timing, your tone and your intention.
Good PR remembers that it’s not just your investors who care what happens with and to your brand. Good PR remembers that real people have real concerns and a real and rightful desire to be informed.
Let’s hope Carphone Warehouse learns quickly from this PR stumble and remembers that at its heart, it’s a business in communication. And my goodness is it time to start communicating!
**For more insight into PR and marketing, for commentary or queries about your own brand, call Deborah on 07974 359001.
Pic by Thinglass for Istockphotos