Perhaps the only thing worse than a PR crisis is a PR crisis that refuses to die. The rapid news cycle can offer protection against some scandals, but if a new, similar issue crops up before another falls out of rotation, then suddenly it’s round the clock negative coverage that never ends.
Articles and TV coverage that discusses the latest scandal – a hack of government worker information at the Office of Personnel Management almost always references a “trend.” To establish that “trend” story, the media has to name names. Suddenly, people are talking about Target and Home Depot (and others) again. Unfair? Maybe, probably even, but that’s the reality, fair or not. Which is exactly what the Office of Personnel Management in D.C. just learned the hard way.
After a hack compromised the personal data – including social security numbers – of nearly 22 million government workers, the OPM was forced to issue a painful press release. The press release divulged the breach and what it planned to do about it.
The information was stolen from a background information database. This data included both the actual applicants seeking employment as well as nearly two million family members.
In a world where data breaches cannot be foreseen, the cat and mouse game requires learning as you go as well as near prescient abilities to guess where the enemy might strike next.
The breach created a perfect storm PR crisis for the OPM. The initial hack was discovered and announced in early June. After a month of intense media scrutiny, further research into the extensiveness of the breach forced OPM representatives to get back out before the media in early July and announce it was far worse than initially suspected.
Both current and former employees and their families had been put at risk, and the department could not say, specifically, who may have been impacted. This lengthy negative messaging combined with the corrosive nature of the uncertainty accompanying all of this puts the OPM in a precarious position. Can they legitimately begin releasing messages about what is being done to stop this from happening again when it could still be happening? Can they honestly tell other government employees their data is safe now?
While some blame for the attack has been placed on China, that country has denied involvement … and, when it comes to personal data, people have enough blame to go around. What they want solved is the uncertainty and fear. Quite an uphill battle for anyone in this situation, even the Federal government.
This article was syndicated from Business 2 Community: Hacking Attack Becomes An Ongoing PR Crisis
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