A.M. Best Webinar on Cyber Security Highlights Importance of Preserving Reputational Capital

McEwen & McMahon Principal Robert McEwen was among four panelists for A.M. Best's Sept. 26 webinar on cybersecurity.  The forum, which drew an online audience of more than 1,200 viewers, afforded McEwen the opportunity to emphasize the tangible value of reputation, and what must be done to protect it in the event of a data breach.  Here's a link to the video. http:

Jeff Bezos, the Washington Post, and the Brave New World of Online News

  It’s been fascinating to read the abundant analysis of Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos’ purchase of The Washington Post, some by writers who suddenly find themselves working for him. In answer to the question, “What exactly does Bezos have up his sleeve?” columnists have speculated along these lines: -- It’s a vanity purchase, part of a trend among billionaires collecting newspapers like trophies, e.g., John Henry’s Boston Globe and Warren Buffett’s Omaha World-Herald.  All very reminiscent of  “Citizen Kane.” -- It’s a noble gesture to salvage a venerable American institution, legendary for Woodward & Bernstein’s investigative reporting of the Watergate…

Cyber Espionage Crises Emerge As Challenge for Privacy Liability Insurers

  The timing couldn't have been better.  As President Obama was discussing cyber security with the Chinese premier, and weathering a firestorm of criticism over federal invasions of privacy, hundreds of thought leaders with expertise in the same subject matter gathered in Philadelphia last week for the NetDiligence® Conference on Cyber Security and Privacy Liability.   This annual forum of insurers, attorneys, regulators, forensics experts, credit monitors, crisis managers and other stakeholders in four short years has grown to become a global nexus of education, planning and preparation for companies, institutions and persons who are at risk of sustaining data…

PR Implications of New Executive Order on Cyber Security

  A very instructive webinar hosted last week by the information security consultancy Kroll and the law firm of Baker Hostetler helped illuminate the public relations implications of the Executive Order on Cyber Security announced during the State of the Union address by President Obama earlier in the week. Among many other worthwhile insights, the point was made that direct embrace of this issue by The White House marks a sea change in the landscape of how we think about information security.  For the past decade, the predominant concern was identify theft, and of course that remains a very real…

Cyber Security Incidents Call for Crisis Management Expertise

Two major news stories caught my eye recently, both having to do with the escalating problem of cyber security, an issue that is accounting for an ever-greater percentage of crisis management engagements for firms like ours.   On September 19th Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W. VA) sent letters to the chief executives of every Fortune 500 company, asking them to describe how they manage network security. The letter isn't a subpoena so the CEOs aren't legally required to respond but Rockefeller asked them to by Oct. 19th.   His action comes after Senate Republicans in August blocked a White House-backed bill that…

"Public Relations? What's That?"

There is a wonderful scene in the 1962 movie “Days of Wine and Roses” in which PR man Jack Lemmon, meeting his curmudgeon of a father-in-law for the first time, stumbles through his answer to the question, “Public relations? What’s that?” Lemmon’s response is an anecdotal, apologetic and unconvincing explanation of what he does for a living, to which his-father-in-law, played perfectly by an aging Charles Bickford, shakes his head and says sadly, “I don't understand that kind of work.”   Fifty years have passed since that movie was made, and I’m still not sure the general public understands public relations today…

The Philadelphia Story

Last week in Philadelphia I attended the 3rd annual Net Diligence Cyber Risk and Privacy Liability Forum, a gathering of insurers, underwriters and attorneys who help their clients deal with network security issues such as data breaches. These are the nation's foremost experts on the subject, having counseled hundreds of clients through the intense experience of dealing with data breaches caused by everything from earthquakes to lost laptops to malicious hackers. Given the breadth and depth of their expertise, I was surprised when, in answer to a question I posed, none ever had witnessed an instance in which a client…

Is the Mobile Bandwagon Passing PR By?

Granted, the conference was sponsored by Mobile Marketer, and marketing usually focuses attention on a single constituency – the customer – as opposed to the many different audiences PR typically seeks to engage. Still, I was struck both by the apparent dearth of PR pros in attendance and the virtual absence of PR strategies or tactics in any of the excellent presentations by Macy's, Coca-Cola, Office Max, The Weather Channel, MTV, Walgreen's and Sears. These companies are using mobile communications to great effect, and no wonder given the 2011 Thanksgiving Weekend statistics provided by Insight Express:   65 percent of…

Why We Lose to Lawyers and How To Even the Odds

Stay in this business long enough and sooner or later you'll find yourself at loggerheads with a lawyer. There always has been and probably always will be dynamic tension between those who navigate courts of law and we who work in the courts of public opinion. Clashes between corporate legal counsel and corporate communications usually involve high-stakes crises and play out in the C-suite or boardroom. Unfortunately for us and for the reputations of our clients, it's almost never a fair fight. The prototypical corporate attorney by virtue of training, temperament and disposition, is far better equipped to win when…

Kodak Demise In Stark Contrast To Its PR Heyday

It's been said that companies like people have lifespans and so their emergence and decline over a period of years ought to be expected as the natural order of things.  But a tragedy is unfolding in Rochester, NY, and to borrow a phrase from Death of a Salesman, "attention must be paid."   One of the greatest companies in U.S. history, and owner of one of the world's most iconic brands, appears to have begun its death rattle. The Wall Street Journal's front-page story Thursday, "Kodak Teeters on the Brink," reads like an obituary written for a person over whom…