3 crisis communications lessons we can learn from the KKK leak
The hacktivist group Anonymous started leaking the names of over 350 individuals that they claim are Ku Klux Klan (KKK) members on Nov. 5. This incident is potentially damaging to any employer that had an employees name appear on Anonymous’s list.
With the rise of hacktivism, it’s important for PR teams to have a plan set in place to deal with a crisis of this form in order to help mitigate any damage that could hurt their company’s image. There are three main lessons to learn that can help protect a business’s reputation during an information leak.
1) Prepare ahead of time
Anonymous made their plans known in October, which means that there was time for employers to prepare for a potential PR disaster. A lot of the KKK members’ names leaked didn’t come to a surprise, as they were public with their affiliation on Facebook and Twitter. All an employer had to do was check their employees’ public social media pages, and they would know before the leak if there was an incoming PR problem.
If you know that one or more of your employees are affiliated with the KKK, you can start preparing a statement for when the list goes public. While this method doesn’t help during every leak, it can come in handy in a variety of situations, as a lot of people don’t filter the information they post about themselves online.
2) Call out misinformation
After Anonymous’s list was made public, a Twitter account claiming to be partnered with the hacktivist group released its own leak with a list of people they stated were KKK members. This list was filled with names of those that weren’t actually affiliated with the KKK.
We removed several names from our list for further investigation. We would rather have a smaller, accurate list that we are comfortable with
— Operation KKK (@Operation_KKK) November 5, 2015
Employers of those that were wrongly accused could have faced a PR problem over this fake list. To prevent any issues from taking place, these companies should release a statement that draws attention to the fraudulent leak and clears the name of their employee.
3) Speak out against the issue
While there are businesses that may have employed a KKK member, the views expressed by employees don’t necessarily represent the company’s values. After a leak like this occurs, it’s important for a company to distance itself from the controversy. In the case of the Anonymous leak, companies that have employed known KKK members should make sure it’s clear that their business doesn’t support or practice racism.
How else could a company handle an information leak? Will this recent leak negatively affect companies that employ KKK members? Leave a comment or talk to me on Twitter @Karbowski_Devon.