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 and CEO of 5W Public Relations, one of the largest independently-owned PR firms in the United States. With over 20 years of experience crafting and executing powerful narratives, Torossian is one of America's most prolific and well-respected Public Relations professionals. Since founding 5WPR in 2003, he has led the company's growth, overseeing more than 175 professionals in the company's headquarters in midtown Manhattan. With clients spanning corporate, technology, consumer and crisis, in addition to digital marketing and public affairs capabilities, 5WPR is regularly recognized as an industry leader and has been named "PR Agency of the Year" by the American Business Awards on multiple occasions. Throughout his career, Torossian has worked with some of the world's most visible companies, brands and organizations. His strategic, resourceful approach has been recognized with numerous awards including being named the Stevie American Business Awards 2020 Entrepreneur of the Year, the American Business Awards PR Executive of the Year, twice over, an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year semi-finalist, Metropolitan Magazine's Most Influential New Yorker, and a 2020 Top Crisis Communications Professional by Business Insider. Torossian is known as one of the country's foremost experts on crisis communications, and is called on to counsel blue chip companies, top business executives and entrepreneurs both in the United States and worldwide. Torossian has lectured on crisis PR at Harvard Business School, appears regularly on CNN & CNBC, was named to PR Week's "40 under Forty" list, is a contributing columnist for Forbes and the New York Observer, and his book, "For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results With Game-Changing Public Relations" is an industry best-seller. A NYC native, Torossian lives in Manhattan with his children. He is a member of Young Presidents Organization (YPO), and active in numerous charities.