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.

Reflections on the 2015 IABC World Conference from The App Garden


Hear from Bulent Osman, CEO of The App Garden, as he recounts his experience at the 2015 IABC World Conference in San Francisco.

With the Monday morning San Franciscan sun shining brightly, I walked passed the top-hatted doorman and through the doors of the Marriott hotel.

It was the first day of the IABC World Conference and the reception was awash with excited chatter. These people were, after all, the world’s best business communicators so it was no surprise to hear the elevated decibel levels befitting of their corporate roles.

At my first IABC World Conference, I was keen to hear from the keynote presentations and meet like-minded people over the two days. As a sponsor of the event I was also looking forward to see our advertisement of the StaffConnect app on the huge billboards, hosting a ‘Dine Around’ and sharing the world of internal communication apps in my presentation.

Hot-footing it to the main hall, I was captivated by the first keynote speaker, Aaron Dignan, who enlightened us on The Responsive Organization. Insightful, compelling and informative…what a start! The rest of the day was a wonderful mix of being inspired by a variety of speakers and meeting interesting people in the Hub.

I went to every exhibitor stand to gain insights into the products and services being offered in this sector, keen to see how they could complement our own product and discover new partnership opportunities.

Tuesday was even better. There were more excellent Keynotes and plenty of networking with attendees from all over the United States, Canada as well as a few fellow Brits too. My presentation went well with plenty of interaction, great questions and photos being taken of my StaffConnect presentation slides.

IABC World Conference Dine AroundOne of my highlights however was the Dine Around. This is where I hosted a small group of delegates to dinner at Café Bastille, a French restaurant in the heart of San Francisco.

The food, the service and the company were faultless. Even a few over-excited diners loudly cheering The Warriors to victory (something about the local basketball team winning a trophy for the first time in many years) didn’t spoil the atmosphere. A lovely evening!

The final morning went by in a flash and before I knew it, I was on the Virgin flight back home to London. Happy, tired and delighted after a great conference, my thoughts floated towards the 2016 IABC World Conference in New Orleans.

Now that should be quite a party…I can’t wait!”


Bulent OsmanBulent Osman is an expert in mobile marketing and Founder & CEO of The App Garden Ltd. Passionate about solving business problems with cutting-edge technology and currently building a high-growth company in the mobile software sector.

Having started The App Garden, his goal is to build a truly outstanding software company, known and respected for building enterprise mobile software solutions that matter to the NHS, Healthcare and large enterprises in the UK and around the world.


Changing the Landscape: Informing the Future


Over 1,000 communicators from across the globe gathered at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in San Francisco this week for the IABC World Conference 2015. Gloria Lombardi reviews.

This week I flew from the UK to California. I rented one of the Airbnb apartments in the Bay area, rideshared with Lyft, drank coffees Americano from Starbucks and had lunches at Whole Foods Market. This year’s IABC World Conference 2015 couldn’t have a better theme, ‘Changing the Landscape: Informing the Future’.

More than 1,000 attendees and a variety of speakers gathered from across the globe to explore new ways of communicating, living and working. With over 80 sessions to choose from, not one day went by that I didn’t feel I could make interesting connections and learn something new.

The world began and will end with a story

For IABC APAC Director and Blogger Subhamoy Das, stories are the scaffoldings of business communications, but also of life. “We all live our lives through stories. We make sense of our world and our place in it through stories!”

As American novelist Reynolds Price once said: “A need to tell and hear stories is essential to the species Homo Sapiens – second in necessity apparently after nourishment and before love and shelter.”

After all, plenty of scientific studies have addressed the impact of stories on the brain. For example, the brain releases dopamine into the system when it experiences an emotionally charged event, making it easier to remember and with greater accuracy. A story also activates parts in the brain that allows the listener to turn that story in to their own ideas and experience thanks to a process called neural coupling. Another interesting field of research is around the cortex activity and how well told narratives switch on our senses, motions, and feelings.

But, anatomy aside, why are stories so important to communicators? Das’s answer is fivefold:

“Storytelling is the new differentiator; stories provide simulation – knowledge to act; stories provide inspiration – motivation to act; credible ideas make people believe; emotional ideas make people act.”

If you think that this is just a pile of wood, think again. Das cited a study sourced by One Spot, which indicates that 92% of consumers want brands to make ads that feel like a story. On this premise, Chip Heath & Dan Heath’s ‘Made to Stick‘ can be a useful read, which explores six principles of sticky ideas: simplicity, unexpectedness, concreteness, credibility, emotions and stories.

However, some of today’s most innovative stories are co-created – people tell their own stories, which are more trustworthy than any official company release. In the context of work, having staff who authentically share their narratives becomes a powerful means for employee advocacy.  Read more

The future is now


This is a recap of Communication Futures event hosted by IABC UK

The future does not yet exist. But we still have to plan for it. That was the theme of last week’s IABC’s excellent seminar on the future of communications hosted and designed by Susan Walker (@suseew) where we tried to answer these questions:

  • Will communicators have to rethink their role?
  • How is the world of work likely to change?
  • Can we use new techniques to understand how people think?
  • Do we need to extend telling important stories across multiple platforms and formats?
  • What developments can we expect from social media and technology?

From the not-so-new magic of transmedia campaigns to operating in a volatile environment, Susan and her A-list speakers led us in a journey towards what our profession can and should be doing to help the organizations we work for.

Who said what…
Lucy Adams (@lucyatfirehouse) is a strong believer in the potential of communication if it is focused for the individual and that HR and communication functions need to work together more closely.

Adrian Wooldridge (@adwooldridge) management editor of the Economist challenged us as communicators with a hard look at the future based on his book “The Great Disruption” which included facts and figures like the research which revealed employee loyalty had halved. In this volatile world, the employee’s first loyalty is to themselves.

Read Silvia Cambie’s interesting reflection on his talk – Communicating in disruptive times.

Hillary Scarlet (@Hilary Scarlett) explained the power of neuroscience and why we react most strongly to threats based on our brains inherited from early man escaping tigers on the savannah.

Steve Spence from Transmedia Storytelling empathised why we need to think of a range of media to tell the story effectively and cannot depend on just one channel.

Silvia Cambie (@silviacambie) and Leslie Crook (@LAC999) gave us their views and predictions of what social media might be in the future. Leslie also shared her social media framework and gave us a preview of John Stepper’s (@johnstepper) working out loud concept. His book is coming out in the fall so keep en eye out!
Read more