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Engadget on Bots and Credit Card Theft is PR Problem For Visa

Having been part of the PR and reportorial world world since before I could drive, I know both sides of the table and am very disappointed at what the world of both PR and Journalism have become. PR people complain reporters don't talk to them. Journalist say they get too many requests. Thus stories don't get told right, and issues, when they arise, tend to fester.

Much of this is caused by the growing "ostrich approach" in Public Relations these days. For those of you who don't know what the ostrich approach is, it means burying your head in the sand, and hoping the problem goes away. This is usually done by simply ignoring the issue, or in the case of corporate PR types, simply ignoring the question. I've seen this behavior rollout over time with AT&T, Verizon, TimeWarner Cable, and now even UBER. It starts where companies eliminate the phone numbers from their website, asking reporters to email in questions. This is largely done to prevent consumers from calling them for help because Customer Service hasn't. The next rung is a voicemail box, but sadly, few calls ever get returned.

Now you can add to the list, Visa which really has an answer to the problem Engadget calls out yesterday in a post penned by Jon Fingas.  Fingas to his credit says Visa should deploy fraud prevention like MasterCard. But in reality Visa already has better technology from Finsphere, which uses a mobile phone's location to determine the legitimacy of a transaction.

For Visa this is a two strike issue. First, they already have the technology to combat the fraud but it's not being sold through to the banks, but they also have the news angle to propel the use of the advanced technology. Unfortunately, by not commenting on the story, they missed the sales opportunity to help the sales team get some air cover and turn a negative into an opportunity. 

Good PR people know how to turn a tough question into those opportunities to propel the growth of a product, service or company. Unfortunately, too much effort is placed on spin doctoring, playing defense or simply being too busy in meetings to deal with the media in a timely manner.  This happens when the PR folks are not in sync with the product and sales teams. Too often their agendas are set quarterly and annually. They have their news to put out, but stop working on last year's news too soon. This ends up harming the company's investment in new products that have very long sales cycles.

To cure this, corporations need to go back to the old school model of having PR types "own" the news around a product, not leave it solely in the hands of the CMO and their organization, which looks solely at lead generation stats vs. addressing real world problems and solving them, which are best told as stories, not as SEO work around keywords and Ad Words.


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