A geek, a Claims Manager and a PR man walk into a bar…

Two business trends are merging like ocean currents to create a rip-curl of opportunity for those of us prepared to grab our boards and go surfing.

The first is the recognition by insurers, underwriters and loss adjusters that effective communication can minimise not only reputational damage but also the impact to the financial bottom line when things go wrong in businesses of all sizes. And, perhaps more importantly, that bad or ineffective communication can exacerbate the damage.

Due North met recently with a leading player in the NZ insurance sector to help it create a ‘full service’ crisis response and recovery package for its clients.

Any effective crisis response plan must include decent communication advice, guidance and capability. It’s fantastic that the financial services sector is starting to recognise this.

Of course any effective crisis response plan must include decent communication advice, guidance and capability. Those of us in PR have known that forever. It’s fantastic that the financial services sector is starting to recognise it too. PR colleagues of mine in Europe, North America and Aussie have had similar meetings recently, as have two other New Zealand PR firms I know of.

So that’s trend #1.

The second is around data security or, more accurately, data insecurity. Forget the odd email blunder at ACC; that’s small beer. Data breaches at businesses or organisations with which hundreds of millions of people do business are now being reported around the world on an almost daily basis.

They come in all shapes and sizes. It’s not only the biggies like Sony Playstation, Target or telecoms giant Orange. Earlier this month it was speculated that the website selling tickets to the Aussie music festival Splendour in the Grass had been hacked and that patrons’ Moshtix details had been sold.

A British government survey published in April indicates that almost half of all large organisations in the UK have lost or had confidential data stolen over the past year but that only 30 percent of these incidents are ever reported by media.

As the volume of data collected and stored increases, and business dependency on it grows, the cost of a security breach or failure is rising rapidly.

Increasingly, businesses are coming to the realisation that technology alone will not protect them against the impact of such attacks on the security or integrity of their immensely valuable data. Many now use insurance products to reduce the financial impact of breaches – be they real or, in the case of the Splendour in the Grass incident, speculated.

Cyber insurance enables them to transfer the costs of breaches externally and to access the right expertise when an event occurs. One-third of companies already have cyber insurance and a Symantec study predicts a 50 percent growth in such insurance purchased in the next year.

That’s trend #2.

So, taken together, what does all this show? Very simply, that:

  • People are pinching all kinds of data from all sorts of places
  • Insurance companies are starting to sell heaps of products to help offset the cost/damage
  • Insurers understand that PR has a vital role to play in minimising that cost/damage

Surf’s up!


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