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Simon Dumenco on Leaked Crisis Management Letters

By Published on .

Breaking news: The email server of a leading crisis-management PR agency has been breached, revealing details of how the firm crafts what it calls public messages of "prideful contrition" for its clients. Also leaked: a document for clients labeled "Draft Public Statements." Ad Age Media Guy Simon Dumenco is withholding the names of the firm and its clients as he attempts to determine if the crises outlined in the statements represent real or hypothetical scenarios.

Draft client letter

Dear [redacted],

Good speaking with you earlier! Although this is obviously a difficult time for you and everyone at [redacted], we need to immediately focus on driving the conversation to help the public understand just how proactive you've been in addressing this ongoing challenge.

Our twin goals here:

• Emphasize how seriously you take the situation while simultaneously downplaying the seriousness of the situation.

• Position the crisis not as a problem, but as an opportunity to improve your already excellent, best-in-class systems.

Let's circle back by the end of the day and nail down an initial response.

Best,
[redacted]

We take our relationship of trust with you, our user, very seriously.
We take our relationship of trust with you, our user, very seriously. Credit: fleaz/iStock

Draft public statements

Foreign interference: We take our relationship of trust with you, our user, very seriously, and recognize that you may have concerns about recent reports regarding [redacted]-linked organizations using our platform. As we've previously disclosed, we received payments in excess of [redacted] from these organizations.

Today we're instituting strict new vetting procedures.

For instance, we will no longer accept sacks of rubles and loose kopeks, dropped off on our loading dock, as payment.* And we're improving our A.I.-detection systems to better flag false information in user posts: Certain word/phrase pairings—such as "Hillary" and "Comet Ping Pong," or "Hillary" and "antifa"—will now trigger an additional level of human review.**

We know that there is much more for us to do. But we do want to share what we are working on and hear your feedback so we can do better.

Personal information breach: Nothing is more important to us than the safety and security of your personal information. Unfortunately, due to a breach of our systems, a certain portion*** of our database of user information may have been accessed by unauthorized parties. As soon as we became aware of this unauthorized access, we made plans to fully disclose the details of the breach.****

Among the proactive measures we're taking to further secure your information: We will remove the database of user login, password, blood type, height, weight, BMI (body mass index), DNA sequences, credit card numbers and web browser history from our public-facing servers on a timely basis.*****

We know that there is much more for us to do. But we do want to share what we are working on and hear your feedback so we can do better.

Leadership breach: We know that members of the [redacted] community place great trust in our company's management. Nothing is more important to us than transparency regarding our leadership. As soon as it became clear that Vladimir Putin had a previously undisclosed advisory role at [redacted], we took immediate steps to remove him from our board's strategy committee.

We want to emphasize that Mr. Putin never attended meetings in person, instead always using the dial-in conference number. He was known to most of the other board members as, simply, "Vlad," and he never identified himself as the president of the Russian Federation. Furthermore, only a portion*** of Mr. Putin's strategy recommendations were adopted by the board.

We know that there is much more for us to do. But we do want to share what we are working on and hear your feedback so we can do better.

Home breach: We know that our customers place a great deal of trust in our line of internet-connected appliances and devices, including our smart locks. That's why we were dismayed by recent reports that a portion of our users may have had their homes or apartments accessed by members of our team while they were away; that these team members may have also breached bedroom dresser drawers; and, in a limited number of cases,*** photographed themselves wearing users' undergarments.

While section 73(a) of our Terms of Service clearly allows such access, we recognize that some users may have had different expectations regarding our "on-site concierge" and "home inspection" offerings.

That's why effective immediately we are: 1. Updating our TOS; 2. Making our concierge/inspection services opt-in, rather than default; 3. Instructing our team members to fully launder any undergarments before placing them back in your dresser drawers.

We know that there is much more for us to do. But we do want to share what we are working on and hear your feedback so we can do better.

*Bitcoin still accepted
**by an intern
***up to and including 100%
****within three years or less
*****by 2021 or sooner

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