Depending on which study you read, 63% to 75% of the world’s population have mobile phones. That’s a range of 4.7 to 5.6 billion people globally! Either way, it’s a massive number that PR and marketing people can’t ignore. Because of the speed at which digital communication and marketing are moving, there are many challenges and questions that follow. 

The omnipresence of mobile phones and the migration of our younger generations to shopping and connecting virtually may be a time-saver, but it also has created some challenges for consumers and marketers alike. 

Alternatively, it’s convenient and allows customers the ability to compare merchandise and prices quickly. It permits consumers to go beyond the walls of a store by locating and buying something that may not be carried in a store because of low demand, but available online. Consumer reviews are also often helpful and there’s less pressure to buy in an online environment.

However, if you have a question about a product you’re interested in, you may not get an answer right away. Clothing sizes can also vary between manufacturers so a medium in one brand may be large in another. You can’t try on any merchandise online. 

Like it or not, online buying is not only here to stay but likely to grow even bigger. 

How To Prepare

If you sell products online, some precautions are obvious. You should be using a secure HTTPS site and backing up all your data at a secure and separate site. Although some companies accept debit cards, consider allowing just credit cards. If the customer does a lot of banking where the debit card is from, it’s highly likely that all or most of their accounts are linked. If that’s the case and your site gets hacked, every account linked to that debit card is likely in jeopardy.

As a PR or marketing person, you want to ensure that a customers are confident about your site’s security. There are reports of hackers getting into sites of large companies and gaining access to personal and confidential information. Consider posting a padlock symbol before the HTTPS in your URL as an added and visual measure of assurance to your customers.

We’ve Been Hacked! Now What?

As with any communication crisis, there should be a plan in place beforehand. If not, this is what needs to be done immediately.

As soon as a data security breach has been confirmed, email your customers and anyone else in your database. If the magnitude is not yet known, don’t take any chances, don’t wait, but assume the worst. In such a case, the wording of your email should say something like, “Your data may have been….”

Be clear and open with your customers. Share with them what information may have been taken, how it may have happened, and what actions your company has taken since the breach. It would also be wise to suggest that customers alert their credit card companies and ask the major credit reporting companies to insert fraud alerts in their files.

Maintain frequent and clear contact with your customers until everything is resolved. Be sure to alert them to any stronger precautions you’re taking and be sure to thank them for their patience and understanding.

Ronn Torossian is the CEO and Founder of 5W Public Relations

5wpr ceo ronn torossian

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Ronn Torossian is the Founder, President and CEO of New York-based 5W Public Relations. He has overseen the company's rapid growth and expansion to the Inc. 500 list, as well as provided counsel to hundreds of companies, including members of the Fortune 500, Inc. 500 and Forbes 400. His work spans global interests, corporate entities, high-profile individuals, regional business entities, government agencies and academic institutions - both on routine public relations matters and extremely sensitive issues. One of the foremost public relations experts in the U.S., Torossian is known for his aggressive, results-focused orientation, as well as his close working relationships with members of the media, influencers, decision makers, politicians and celebrities. At 5W Public Relations, Torossian's client experience has included programs for Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Anheuser-Busch, Barnes & Noble, Cantor Fitzgerald, IHOP, McDonald's, Evian, EDS, VeriSign, XM Radio, Seagram's, The Loews Regency, Bad Boy Worldwide Entertainment, Marriott Hotels, Vail Resorts, Pamela Anderson, Snoop Dogg, the Government of Israel, and others. Referred to by The New York Post as a "publicity guru," by Fox News as a "high-powered PR CEO," by Tyra Banks as a "crisis management guru," and by CNN as "a leading PR expert," Torossian is regularly featured in and quoted by the media, including by CNN, Fox News Channel, MSNBC, NBC, The New York Times, and others. CBS National News said "Ronn Torossian knows spin," and a New York Times feature story on Torossian referred to him as "The consummate hard-driving, scrappy NY publicist." Earlier in his career, Torossian was a Vice President/Group Director for one of The InterPublic Group's (IPG) largest PR agencies, where he was responsible for significant client growth and successful client programs, including work for Clinique, Fox News Channel, DHL, Hard Rock Café and others. A resident of Manhattan’s Upper West Side, Torossian was named to the Advertising Age "40 Under 40" list, PR Week's "40 Under 40" List, is a regular lecturer at universities and conferences, a member of Young Presidents Organization (YPO) and a board member of numerous non-profit organizations.