It's been a tough week for the newswires. First, PR Newswire distributed a hoax release that said General Mills was being investigated by the Obama administration. Then, late last week, Business Wire was the victim – sending out a fraudulent release supposedly on behalf of Javelin Pharmaceuticals. Both releases, which were sent out late at night, are being investigated by the authorities. Certainly these incidents, as isolated as they were, could be cause for alarm for clients. Companies expect – and rely on – a stringent level of security from the newswires since they distribute important, and often material, information.
In times of crisis where there has been a breakdown in system processes, the first question is what will be done to prevent a similar situation from occurring. That's why Business Wire's response to its own crisis sticks out as a particularly good one. On the same day that news of the hoax press release spread, Business Wire issued a release of its own stating that it would now require all of its users to use its proprietary system, BW Connect, to upload press releases. Previously, clients had been able to e-mail releases in very rare circumstances.
Although Business Wire made sure to point out that this change in submission policy was in the works long before the crisis, by moving up the change – and then communicating it quickly to its clients and the general public – it showed current and potential clients that it takes the issue of security seriously. Being transparent about its procedures and how it will modify them goes a long way to maintain consumer trust.