In October of 2016, internet performance management company Dyn found itself in crisis mode when it was hit with a series of cyberattacks that resulted in its clients—top sites like Twitter and Netflix—experiencing major outages. Immediately, news sites were reporting on the outages. Boston-based integrated marketing and PR agency PAN Communications leapt into action, providing strategic counsel to Dyn and working with them to be as transparent as possible.
“Crisis communications campaigns pose unique challenges for the brands and public relations professionals involved,” said Gene Carozza, Senior Vice President at PAN. “This specific campaign addressed ‘The Day the Internet Broke.’ On top of correcting the problem at hand, PAN and Dyn were forced to simultaneously address and pre-empt the potentially negative publicity and any resulting customer dissatisfaction at the outset of this campaign.”
PAN arranged two press conferences with leading business press and security media to get out in front of the situation. Read on to see how the firm quelled the crisis and turned the tone back to positive for Dyn—earning a Bronze Award in the “Best Crisis Communications” category in Bulldog Reporter’s 2017 Media Relations Awards.
The Strategy: PAN worked closely with Dyn throughout the crisis, advising them to be transparent with the media, customers and general public by providing regular updates throughout the day.
“PAN’s main objectives were to respond publicly, get reporters the information they needed in a timely manner, and ensure stories were accurate,” Carozza relates. “Within 25 minutes of the onset of the first attack, Dyn posted an update on Twitter to inform concerned customers.”
Dyn dedicated its Twitter account to updates on progress against the attacks and suspended all other social media activity. The company also set up a “status site” where anyone could check the status of mitigation.
“PAN arranged press conferences that day with top journalists from publications such as The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Associated Press, while Dyn provided an update on progress and allowed time for a Q&A,” he adds. “Not a single reporters’ questions went unanswered that day. It was through these efforts that all goals were met and expectations were exceeded.”
The Results: Following the events, PAN conducted a comprehensive analysis of social media conversation and media coverage of the attacks using various tools. Within 10 days, there were almost 800 pieces of coverage—the vast majority of which were positive or neutral towards Dyn. The brand came out of the crisis as the honest victim and the media attention informed the world of the importance of Dyn’s DNS offerings.
Key Takeaways: “’The Day the Internet Broke’ reinforced classic steps and measures to take when dealing with a crisis,” Carozza offers. “This campaign showcased the importance of transparency and constant communication, as PAN and Dyn worked together to inform and educate the public about the seriousness and complexity of the attack.
“Moving forward, PAN will treat this campaign as a reminder that positive results—in the form of over 800 pieces of national and international coverage—can come out of being proactive and transparent,” he concludes.