Retailer Data Breach

A popular online retailer fell victim to a hack involving the theft of its customers’ data. The breach occurred at a particularly sensitive time, coming as it did in the wake of TalkTalk’s crisis.

Bell Yard had been called in by the client’s lawyers to assist in preparing media responses in anticipation of journalist enquiries.  However, the company itself did not call on our assistance for preparation until after a call had been received by the BBC, who had learned of the breach through an affected customer.

Bell Yard swiftly ascertained as much of the detail as possible within 2 hours of being instructed. We then prepped the CEO to be interviewed, allowing him to articulate the detail that was known and that which could not yet be known, as well as to provide the reassurance that all that could be done was being done, providing context to the situation.   Crafting the correct narrative from the outset set the tone for future reporting. Bell Yard also drafted the customer notification correspondence plus a series of FAQs for the client’s website.  Together with the legal team, we ensured the public messaging reflected the facts self-reported to the Information Commissioner’s Office.

A further part of Bell Yard’s engagement was to advise on optimal social media responses to answer concerned customers, to recommend steps to help re-establish reputation and minimise future trading disruption.

A critical element was the close involvement of the CEO and, given the nature of the business, as an online only retailer, rapid and relevant social media responses proved essential, affording customers the swift reassurance they were seeking.  Taken together, these aspects helped prevent national press escalation.

Post-crisis, Bell Yard recommended ways to help the company restore its reputation. The close involvement of senior management in decision–making, including public and customer communications, helped ensure responses were rapid and realistic so minimising potential escalation of the issue.

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Bell Yard Melanie Riley Bell Yard Melanie Riley