Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Sweet Confirmation

Earlier this week the CMO Council announced the results of a new study, entitled Secure the Trust of Your Brand: How Security and IT Integrity Influence Corporate Brands. The study investigates precisely what the name implies: the impact of security on brand influence.

Many of the findings in Secure the Trust, which was sponsored by Symantec and Factiva, were in keeping with similar studies, offering support for a number of points we know to be true either from the research of other groups, or anecdotally. For example, we know that poor security, evinced by news of a breach, can erode brand confidence and that multiple breaches are likely to prompt significant customer defections. We also know that poor security can negatively affect stock performance.

Some of the findings, however, were new and interesting. In addition to the CMO Council’s analysis of media coverage of breaches (which, as a comms analyst, I found compelling), there was one point that stood out, which was summarized in the press release announcing the study:

“While both corporate marketers and business executives indicate emphatically that security concerns are rising for their companies and their customers, just 29 percent of marketers say that their company has a crisis containment plan in case of a security breach. Furthermore, although 60 percent of marketers believe that security and IT integrity provide an opportunity for brand differentiation, 60 percent also say that security has not become a more significant theme in their company’s messaging and marketing communications.”

That first sentence jumped out at me. Only 29 percent have a crisis containment plan.

That’s a startling figure, but I was glad to read it. Glad because, as a consultant who follows this game, I have seen in the public response to breaches that many companies react in a way that suggests strongly unpreparedness. I would not have guessed that number was that low, however, so I was also glad to have quantifiable evidence to back up my own beliefs.

If you are among the 71 percent of companies operating without a crisis containment plan, you need to get in touch with me…

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