Virgin Media, T-Mobile and more disclose data breaches; YouTube demonetizes ‘coronavirus’; and Tito’s Vodka corrects a COVID-19 fallacy

Also: Free-doughnut Fridays for Dunkin’ loyalists, Google to index by mobile-friendly websites, most communicators don’t quite get SEO, and more.

Good morning, PR pros:

 Dunkin’ is hoping to make your Fridays sweeter: Starting today, the chain is offering members of its loyalty program a free doughnut with a beverage purchase through the end of March.

Cheerleader Gabi Butler, who appears in Netflix’s documentary series “Cheer,” kicked off the promotion (literally) on Instagram:

Here are today’s top stories:

Virgin Media, T-Mobile, Holland America and Princess Cruises suffer data breaches

Virgin Media admitted that one of its marketing data bases was “incorrectly configured,” exposing 900,000 customers’ names, emails, phone numbers and home addresses. The database has reportedly been unsecure since April 2019.

 The BBC reported:

Lutz Schüler, chief executive of Virgin Media said: “We recently became aware that one of our marketing databases was incorrectly configured which allowed unauthorised access. We immediately solved the issue by shutting down access.”

“Protecting our customers’ data is a top priority and we sincerely apologise,” he said.

“Based upon our investigation, Virgin Media does believe that the database was accessed on at least one occasion but we do not know the extent of the access or if any information was actually used,” Mr Schuler said.

T-Mobile also announced a data breach that exposed customers’ financial and personal information. The breach occurred when the company’s email vendor was hacked.

In a news release, T-Mobile wrote:

The information accessed may have included customer names and addresses, phone numbers, account numbers, rate plans and features, and billing information. Your financial information (including credit card information) and Social Security number were not impacted.

We are not aware of any evidence where the information contained in the affected email accounts has been used to commit fraud or otherwise misused.

Canival Corp. recently disclosed that its Holland America Line and Princess Cruises were affected by a data breach that occurred in May 2019. The hack exposed travelers’ and employees’ names, Social Security numbers, government identification numbers (such as passport numbers), credit card information and health information.

In a press release, Princess Cruises wrote:

While there is currently no indication of any misuse of this information, credit monitoring and identity protection services will be provided free of charge to give those affected peace of mind. The company also established a dedicated toll-free number for questions related to this incident: 1-833-719-0091 (toll-free U.S.) or 1-936-215-6456 (International).

Data privacy and protection are extremely important to Princess Cruises and the company regrets this incident. As part of its ongoing operations, the company is reviewing security & privacy policies and procedures and implementing changes when needed to enhance information security.

Why it matters: Data breaches are becoming increasingly frequent, but that doesn’t mean they can’t destroy consumers’ trust in your organization. Communicate your knowledge of security breaches with potentially affected parties as quickly and transparently as possible, outlining the steps you’re taking to determine the cause, as well as your plans to help affected consumers and/or employees to protect their information from being used nefariously.


MEASURED THOUGHTS

 According to data from Fractl, one in four business owners is unfamiliar with SEO. Many don’t understand how Google affects search.

Image courtesy of Fractl.

When talking about SEO, many of the terms the experts use might also be unfamiliar.

Image courtesy of Fractl.

See more results in the full report.

YouTube demonetizes ‘Coronavirus’ content

The social media platform flagged the term, disabling ads from running on any videos that mention the outbreak.

Gizmodo reported:

Tom Leung, YouTube’s director of product management, announced in a general PSA last month that the company has classified the coronavirus as a “sensitive event,” and that henceforth all videos focused on the topic will be demonetized “until further notice.” (“Sensitive events” include global health crises, terrorist attacks, and armed conflict.)

Back in 2016, the “sensitive events” classification caused an uproar with a resulting #YouTubeIsOverParty hashtag when creators started receiving email notifications informing them that “controversial or sensitive subjects” such as natural tragedies would be demonetized as the content was considered “not advertiser-friendly.”

Why it’s important: YouTube has received backlash from content creators who cover current events and news, but the platform isn’t backing down from its decision. Many organizations are hesitant to comment on the COVID-19 outbreak, so as not to seem opportunistic during a public health crisis. Especially as Amazon, Walmart and other online retailers struggle with third-party sellers who have participated in price gouging on items related to the outbreak, YouTube’s move should both placate advertising partners and help it stay out a potential crisis.


FROM THE EXPERTS

 Many organizations are looking to celebrate the work of their female employees and colleagues for International Women’s Day. Read how several PR pros are making the occasion, along with tips for meaningful action, in this article by PR Daily’s Ted Kitterman.


SOCIAL BUZZ

 As the COVID-19 outbreak spreads and hand sanitizer becomes scarce, directions for making your own sanitizer are popping up everywhere. Tito’s Handmade Vodka recently had to tell consumers not to use its beverage in the do-it-yourself concoction:

Some publications are also warning readers about the dangers of making your own sanitizer:

The trend serves as another example of how quickly misinformation can spread online as well as a reminder to brand managers to remain vigilant in listening to conversations about their organizations.

Google to index websites’ mobile versions

Starting in September, Google will index websites by their mobile versions. Google says 70% of websites displayed in its search results are following mobile-first indexing.

Why you should care: If your website isn’t yet mobile-friendly, it’s time to get aboard the bandwagon. By having a mobile-friendly website, you stand to gain higher rankings within search engines and you appeal to the growing number of consumers searching for organizations and information on their smartphones and tablets.


WHAT YOU SAID

We asked how—or whether—you were using the metric “share of voice” to measure your campaigns. Only a little over 12% said they always use it.

Tressa Robbins, VP of client onboarding for Burelles, says they are seeing more and more customers looking to use share of voice.

There seems to be a knowledge gap, with 40% of respondents saying they are not familiar with it. If you are using it, share your stories with us in the comments or tweet with our hashtag #MorningScoop.


SOUNDING BOARD

 Has COVID-19 affected your work travel? Are you staying home from conferences and other events?

Share your thoughts for our #MorningScoop.

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