Edward Snowden’s spying revelations this week have been cited as one of the most significant leaks in US political history. If George Orwell were still alive, no doubt he’d be saying “I told you so” to anyone who’d listen (and if Snowden is to be believed then we can include the US intelligent services in that). Privacy infringements aside, one of the possibly unforeseen side effects of Snowden’s disclosures is that it has thrust his former employer, US security contractor Booz Allen Hamilton and the equity company The Carlyle Group that owns it, into the media spotlight.
The company has been described in the media as “scrambling to distance itself from Snowden.” Following his decision to reveal his own and his employer’s identity, the Booz Allen Hamilton share price dropped by 2.4% on Monday. It reacted by firing Snowden and announcing an internal investigation into the security leak.
Whether the company has handled the crisis correctly or not, its actions and response to revelations does highlight how easily reputations can be wiped out overnight. A recent Skout blog touched on this citing that every organisation is vulnerable [to a crisis that can impact brand reputation] and for B2B companies it might just be the unthinkable that happens.
From a B2B PR company perspective, while it seems unlikely that Booz Allen Hamilton could have predicted and planned for a whistle blower, given the sensitive nature of the company’s work it could (and should) have had a developed and tested a crisis response plan to deal with a security leak – however it took place. As we all know failure to prepare means preparing to fail.