Security product entrepreneurs know the feeling. You wake up to a flurry of messages, then scan social media to see that there has been a major data breach. Journalists frantically report metrics around data lost, impact to business operations and cost of remediation. But the most important data point is the one that is immediately apparent to you – this could have been prevented. By the very product you have sacrificed years of your life to building from the ground up.
The first reaction is universal feeling of validation. You have seen product market fit play out on the biggest stage of all, and you are justified in feeling proud. But it is important that this emotion is not present in any of your company’s communications. Jobs and vast sums of money have been lost, reputations and careers may have been seriously damaged. This should inform the tone of any comment you make. There is a reason that seatbelt manufacturers don’t comment on traffic accidents.
Instead, use this as a chance to provide commentary that showcases your expertise in this specific area of security. Speak in general terms about the nature of the attack, ideally positioning it in the context of similar events throughout the industry. Add some technical specifics of the breach that relate to what your company does, but use this sparingly and avoid mentioning any specific products offered by you or your competitors.
Always try to strike a note of optimism within your broader response. Point to how market dynamics or regulation could address breaches like this and focus on what the broader industry can do to prevent it happening again. Be honest, but without resorting to language that promotes fear, uncertainty and doubt.
The most important thing is to be respectful and professional in all your communications, externally and internally. These events are an opportunity to show yourself and your company as capable, trustworthy experts.
When done consistently and effectively, a measured rapid response strategy should be a key part of your communications programme. It can show both your own expertise and the capabilities of your product or service in protecting against these attacks. But tone and empathy is vital – no one wants to look like an ambulance chaser.
Written by Ben Honan, Account Director, Business & Technology