(Satire) “Just the Equifax, Ma’am” — 5 PR Apology Hacks from a Credit Giant

The Non-PR PR Strategy (source: unsplash.com)

Today, Equifax (dubbed “EquiHacks”) announced that it had been breached. Oops. Well, that *you and I* had been breached. A mere inconvenience for 143 million customers. No biggie. So let’s break down the anatomy of a PR apology when shit hits the fan. For Fun. Because it won’t be for many of us down the road. So here’s how to do it, EquiHacks-style.

  1. Make Sure Your CEO is “Award-Winning”

On September 1, the company announced that its CEO had been named one of Atlanta’s “most admired” CEOs. At this point, execs knew the shit was about to hit the public PR fan (the breach happened in July). Oops. But hey, let’s take those awards, anyway. It takes extra cojones to accept an award knowing that the breach had already happened. You got those for days. That’s ballsy leadership. And you go all in.

2. Be Sure Your Twitter Account Tweets the Requisite Apology

Make sure, too, when you apologize that you minimize the size of the disaster. “We’re sorry for the frustration and inconvenience…” Yes, having 143 million customers’ data exposed is a mere inconvenience. Downsizing the magnitude is key. People appreciate that you tried to make them feel better by trivializing their worries. Smart.

3. Tell People You Acted Quickly (AFTER Your Execs Sell Stock)

‘We acted immediately…’ It’s important to let people know even if it’s not true. Equifax notified the public more than a month after the breach happened. It’s funny because executives sold millions in stock before the announcement was made. We can all appreciate the humor there — especially those folks whose data was exposed. Just like fake running when the light turns to “Don’t Walk,” pretending to care is important. Optics matter. What a sense of humor and who doesn’t love that kind of irony?

The irony above — let’s talk about “fraud” and “protection” solutions hours before we tell people about the breach. Oops. You can always cop a “my bad.”

4. Don’t Show Any Humanity, Empathy or Transparency

It’s super important to hide behind the corporate veil at times like these. “You don’t need to know” calms the masses and let’s people know you have it all under control. Just like the security of their data. Don’t respond to tweets or concerns. It’s very important to give company talking points because, damnit, you’re a conglomerate. You know faceless nonsense. Your company wrote the best practices manual.

5. Don’t Give Any Information or Tell Customer Service

That would be silly. See #4. Wait for the lawyers to get involved. Don’t tell customer service about it — the looks on their faces when they realize they don’t have answers or knowledge to give rightfully angry customers! A great prank, indeed. That way when people who are concerned about their data call, customer service is in for a huge surprise! Surprises are fun. Customer service people love to be caught off-guard.

That’s how you handle crisis-communication if you’re a credit conglomerate. And we’re all just EquiF*$KED.


I am a speaker, author (“Stop Boring Me!”- on Amazon), storyteller, improv comic, and creative excavator. I help organizations solve problems creatively and collaboratively with idea orgasms. Getting rid of jargon-monoxide and boring storytelling and content, I also help companies create powerful cultures from the inside-out.

I am a fan of good nonsense in the name of creativity. My 8-yr-old thinks I am hilarious. I know that window is closing soon. My company is Keepingithuman.com. Join the community! Follow Kathy on Twitter. Kathy speaks on humor, improvisation, and organizational storytelling and how to generate new ideas. I do also like to write occasionally about serious stuff too. Her livestream show is #yesandbrand and you can catch that on her FB page every Friday at 10AM PDT.