Public Relations Suggestions On Heartbleed

Heartbleed Ronn torossianNothing is quite as frightening as the unknown. But, when the unknown surrounds an already unknown quantity – internet technology – both companies and customers can end up with a lot of unanswered questions. And, when it comes to consumer behavior, unanswered questions are almost always bad for public relations.

With that in mind, let me reveal 3 steps all companies must take to reassure their customers that all is well with their Internet security.

1 – Understand they don’t understand: The most many consumers know about “Heartbleed” is that it is bad Internet mojo, with a scary name, that may make their information vulnerable. This information may be factual, but it is certainly not comforting. Nor does it answer the question consumers want to hear most – IS MY INFO SAFE??? Most consumers have no way to answer that question. And this is terrifying! How can your company help to allay those legitimate fears?

2 – Make sure you are secure: Since the Heartbleed announcement, many companies have come out and made very public statements about their internet security. Others have not. Can you imagine being a customer of one of the silent companies? Maybe, you already are? So…do you have questions for them? Likely, you do, and it’s just as likely your customers have questions for you. So, first, you need to make certain your internet services and content are protected. Then you need to LET PEOPLE KNOW you are secure.

3 – Answer questions before they are asked: In a PR crisis, sometimes the best thing to do is to shut up, and wait for the questions to come. Have answers ready, but don’t necessarily volunteer information. This is not always the best way to go, but it can be in some cases. However, IN THIS CASE, you are not in a crisis, you are in a questioning period. Your customers have fears they don’t know how to address, and questions they don’t know how to ask. How can you anticipate these questions, and provide the answers BEFORE it turns into a Public Relations crisis?

In providing information where there is currently only questions and fears, you will increase your customer appreciation, and engender consumer loyalty. Failure to do so offers your competition a chance to steal your positive PR … and your customers.


  1. Sean Baker says

    I am just a PR student about to sit finals and this may be a stupid question but if you had the resources, would you invest in a focus group to prepare for what questions may arise?

    • Phil Butler says

      It is not a stupid question. Having at one time been the absolute “king” of shortcuts, my college career proved to me absorbing the subject the best possible way of approaching 4.0. I know that’s mot really what you’d like to hear, but in the end this is the purpose of you being there in the first place. Prepare for any question, this will help you in ways that are perhaps not so clear now.

      You may have to stay awake three days, but just do it. Save the money for beer later.

      Reluctant “Who’s Who” collegian back when.

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