How can organisations prepare to communicate in a cyber crisis?

Ahead of this year’s Crisis Management Conference, Regester Larkin’s chief executive, Andrew Griffin, looks at how organisations can prepare to communicate in a cyber crisis.

Organisations must be prepared to face any sort of crisis, from major physical incidents to scandals and performance failures. According to our recent crisis management survey, organisations are more confident in their ability to respond to familiar risks, such as industrial accidents and extreme weather events, than they are unfamiliar risks. For most, a cyber attack is unfamiliar territory. Yet cyber risk is a key commercial and reputational vulnerability that has moved quickly up organisations’ risk registers in recent years.

As with all aspects of crisis communication preparedness is key. The unique dynamics of a cyber crisis need some special attention. Here are three tips for organisations getting ‘cyber crisis ready’.

  1. Plan the logistics of communication

All organisations should have a crisis communications plan but few of these plans consider the logistics of this. A cyber crisis might require direct communication with consumers, customers and stakeholders, sometimes with important information about actions they should take. But a cyber attack could debilitate normal communication channels, most of which don’t have the capacity to reach large numbers in short time periods. And, of course, internal systems may have been directly impacted, isolated or disconnected to contain the attack. Thinking through these realities during peace time is an invaluable time saver in a crisis.

  1. Don’t be a victim

Even if an organisation is the ‘victim’ of a cyber attack, it can never play the victim card.

Stakeholders may feel let down: an organisation they trust has failed to protect their interests. They must feel that you understand and regret that they have been impacted by the cyber attack. The watchwords here will be care, concern, containment and control. Containment in particular is hugely important in a cyber crisis. If the organisation cannot put a fence around what has happened, the assumption will be that the situation is out of control and uncontained. The last thing stakeholders want in this situation is for the organisation to play the victim card: they want to see action and hear the right emotion.

  1. Ensure you know the facts

A cyber crisis, again like most crises, is characterised by a lack of information in the early stages. What exactly has happened here? What has been compromised? What information is lost? With a cyber incident, the lack of knowledge is about other people’s information and details. Knowing what the organisation does and doesn’t hold on its customers, employees and consumers is the most important step. The organisation’s spokespeople (many of who will find the whole ‘cyber thing’ very unfamiliar and confusing) will need to be reassuring wherever possible.  Knowledge is key: information should include what data is held on customers, how the data is stored and details of the organisation’s investment in cyber resilience.

We have seen through a series of recent high profile data breaches that cyber attacks can have significant commercial and reputational impacts. Preparedness is the key to successful response.

The Crisis Management Conference will be held on Wednesday 14th September in London. For further details on the programme and how to register, please visit the CMC website.

Our journey to digital transformation by Working Out Loud

 

768x350people

With the huge successes of Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat etc. has emerged a rapid, evolution of online networking, trusting opinions, sharing right-here-right-now, our thoughts with photos and videos.

This behaviour is becoming increasingly popular inside organisations by using an Enterprise Social Network (ESN) such as Yammer, Jive and Slack to support strategies, projects, tasks and encourage employee engagement, empowerment and advocacy.

The phrase “Working Out Loud” is gathering momentum to describe this change behaviour. Check out Rachel Miller’s popular blog neatly summarising How to Work Out Loud #wol by John Stepper. It asks you these three growth mindset questions: What am I trying to accomplish? Who can help me? How can I contribute to them to deepen our relationship?

My journey to “Working Out Loud” is a story of personal development, openness and helping to improve the way we work. I joined Glaxo, a global healthcare company, in 1991.

Does this ring any bells…? I used a huge WANG computer with floppy disks.  Microsoft Office (Word, PowerPoint, Excel) and emails were replacing fax. “Surfing the Internet” became a new idiom.  I created some of the company’s first Microsoft FrontPage intranets. I became fascinated about how to speed up laborious office tasks.

It was 10 years ago when I first used Facebook “for work” – to stay connected to some great people I met whilst on a course in the US.  Success was about sharing and building on our collective knowledge and retaining new friendships. So we turned to Facebook and it’s been instrumental in retaining these connections – and, as we have all experienced, it’s so much more!

By the way, Facebook at Work is currently in beta test so you can clearly see how the power of social networking is influencing the future of work.

In parallel at that time, Glaxo (now GSK) also launched numerous internal social networks ‘vertically’ driven by “command and control” business silos. Over time I became passionate about ESN business value and was appointed as the Corporate Comms Yammer Community Manager. I’m proud of the work I did in this role in partnership with GSK IT, and the GSK Brand Team to make Yammer the sustainable network it is today.

Today, whatever ESN you use, success is about approaching it with the right mindset. For me, it’s Working Out Loud in A Network #wolan

wolan model-MAY2016

My #wolan framework expands on John Stepper’s Working Out Loud mindset and how it can practically be adopted inside organisations working towards digital transformation. #wolan is now endorsed by Microsoft, Digital Workplace Group (DWG) and GSK’s German Works Council.

Let me explain what #wolan can do for your business.  It can help to decrease email dependency; position the ESN business case; create ESN governance; enable ESN adoption; align ESN to strategies & projects and ultimately business value; highlights ESN sustainable success stories; demonstrate your company culture – behaviours and values; demonstrates how ESN can be embedded into apps, processes, systems and tasks; raises the relevance of “business intelligent” hash tags, and a template to create your own framework.

Whilst at GSK and since leaving last year, I’ve experienced and documented the benefits of digital transformation enabled by ESNs in a series of blogs. These explained how you can shift employees from sending random emails with a handful of colleagues and operating in vertical silos to operating in horizontal ESNs that help to generously share work with a purpose, encourage serendipity and offer better ways of working that demonstrate business value.

Look at these ESN success stories in a Sales Team, HR, Factory network, Fundraising, small project teams to employee engagement, advocacy tactics, campaigns and strategies. There is pretty much something for every sector, and scalable to help you on your journey to “Working Out Loud”. Here’s just a snippet of senior leader feedback from these great success stories.

 

Comms “Yammer has been without a doubt the “hero” channel for our employee fundraising. An incredible opportunity for any engagement/advocacy programme, as it enables real time collaboration, healthy competition and celebration of fundraising activities and sharing success fast! Yammer can reach everyone in the company and cuts through the communications noise. It has taken us well beyond one-way push communications and PowerPoint!”  Director, Global Communications & Government Affairs

 

HR “Our Yammer On-Boarding group is a great way to connect new hires with those that have just joined before them and SMEs. Nip and nurture new hires in the bud to encourage a collaborative culture and mind-set.” VP, HR Operations

 

If you’re interested in finding out more about Working Out Loud, come along to one of these forthcoming events:

16 May: IABC UK – Future Fit Communications

5-8 June: IABC World Conference, New Orleans join IABC President NSW Australia, Mark Woodrow, “Working Out Loud” session. Mark is a former Yammer Customer Success Manager.

TBC August: I am working with Kirsty Brown on an event with digital transformation expert Allison Maguire, and Employee Engagement Alliance (EEA) on “Working Out Loud”.

Lesley Crook is a Digital Transformation Consultant

3 common mistakes in using social media and how to prevent them

 No. 1: Embracing social media without a strategy and vision

Using social media in corporate communications without a clear vision, purpose and strategy in place is a recipe for disaster.  It means going nowhere.  A clear symptom is the appearance of thousands of groups with only 2-3 members in each.

Cures:

  • Think of social media as a business journey, a transformation in the way your organisation communicates.
  • Link your social media initiatives to clear business objectives.
  • Start with awareness, acceptance and participation from the leaders.
  • Have devoted community managers who understand how to manage relationships on the network.
  • Gain strong support from advocates, your early adopters and champions who understand social media.
  • Have simple guidelines in place, and also make sure you train and educate your employees.
  • Allow people to experiment with the tools, and take their time to familiarise with them.

No. 2: Underestimating Brand Vandals

Brand Vandals are defined by Stephen Waddington and Steve Earl as social media users who publicly and vociferously criticise your organisation. They are not just members of an external community, but they can be your own employees too. When employees turn to social media for complaining and sharing their grievances a company and its corporate communicators have some major issues to deal with.

Cures:

  • Engage with your employees more and encourage an honest working environment.  Take steps to rebuild trust and to openly communicate with employees.
  • Inspire healthy debates inside the organisation through enterprise social networks (ESN).  ESNs encourage sharing knowledge and information: they create two-way dialogues, reduce power distance, connect colleagues globally; they give employees a voice, allow them to make meaningful contribution and innovations, increase engagement and satisfaction (Altimeter, 2012).

No. 3: Focusing on technology rather than on behaviours
Many social media initiatives fail because of too much focus on technology and too little on behaviours.

Cures:

  • Look at engaging with your stakeholders through a new type of relationship, one based on shared values and listening. In social and digital media today people are seeking authentic conversations. They don’t want a canned response.
  • Help your organisation turn into a social enterprise by utilising social technologies – and not just technologies – but social attitudes and the preferences of everyone involved in the enterprise to help run the business.

Further reading:

Brand Vandals: Reputation Wreckers and How to Build Better Defences: Corporate Reputation Risk and Response
Authors: Waddington, Stephen and Earl, Steve, 2013

Making the Business Case for Enterprise Social Networking. Focus on Relationship to Drive Value
Author: Charlene Li, Altimeter, 2012.


Gloria LombardiArticle written by Gloria Lombardi
Community & Editorial Manager, simply-communicate.com
Follow Gloria on Twitter: @LOMBARDI_GLORIA