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Case Study: How Super.com.ua Overcame Negativity with the Help of Sponsored Publications
PR is not just a way of telling your story, it is also the means of protecting your brand’s reputation from potential threats. We wish to present you with insight as to how the online store, Super.com.ua, overcame negative information with the help of PRNews.io and sponsored articles.
What happened: Media spread misleading information
In October of 2016, a number of influential media outlets published articles containing misleading information regarding 67 online stores based in Ukraine. In these articles, it was claimed that those stores had stolen data from their client’s payment cards.
The primary source of this false information, the website AIN.ua, later published an update to its original article:
(“Update: the issue pertains to the vulnerability inside the Magento platform. In case a website uses a third-party payment gateway, e.g. LigPay, the payment cards’ data stays safe.”)
However, by the time AIN.ua had published its update, dozens of media publishers had already shared the misleading information. Unfortunately, news writers hadn’t studied the situation and failed to provide any feedback from those familiar with the issue.
We asked Paul Okhrem, a leading expert in matters of Magento functionality, for feedback.
Paul Okhrem, founder of eLogic, a Magento development company.
To assess the level of harm from the vulnerability of payment cards, we need to get into theory.
There are three methods of interaction between a payment system and an online store. These are:
- Payment redirect — user data isn’t stored on the online store’s side. The store only receives notification once a payment has been successfully processed.
- Hosted payment — the checkout is provided by the payment system, but the user isn’t redirected from the store’s page.
- Full payment integration — the payment card number is encrypted and saved in the online store system. The website addresses the payment system through the API protocol that sends requests to the third-party services.
Modern CMF (Content Management Frameworks), like Magento, provide the protection of user data and their payment information from hijacking on their websites. Magento regularly launches security patches to protect user data from vulnerabilities.
The case described by Ukrainian media concerns the recently discovered Credit Card Hijack vulnerability that allows thieves to intercept data from the credit cards that people use within a website.
In the case of Ukrainian online stores, this vulnerability is absent for the most part. Most online stores don’t include the payment functionality. The other ones that allow credit cards use Privat24 or LiqPay services based on Payment redirect principle. Thus, Ukrainian stores don’t save the payment data from their customers. Customers can securely pay for their purchases on these websites.
Additionally, all online store managers and owners that use the Magento platform are notified about discovered vulnerabilities inside the admin panel and by email. Thus, they have the opportunity to eliminate vulnerabilities by installing security patches.
We witnessed the media negatively impact the reputation of many online stores around Ukraine through the publishing of misleading information. Super.com.ua was one of the online stores that had seen their brand affected, but we helped them to fight back against negativity with the help of sponsored articles.
Super.com.ua case: negative reviews and false accusations
Online store Super.com.ua received negative comments in response to articles and on social media. Readers came to believe the information that had been published on a website that was trusted to them.
Here’s a comment posted in response to an article published on AIN.ua:
(“Whoops, I was about to buy the console on super.com.ua… glad you’ve warned me…”)
And on social media...
Comments on Super.com.ua’s store page on Facebook: A user is dissappointent by the news about vulnerability and reccomends others buy nothing from Super.com.ua. The online store explains to user the situation and overcomes objections.
The store just had to monitor negative comments and reply to them. They should have explained the misleading information from the media.
Fighting negativity: sponsored articles
To help the online store fight negativity and retain its clients, PRNews.io decided to publish a number of sponsored articles with truthful information.
We found out what online media outlets potential customers of Super.com.ua read. Its users primarily purchase game consoles and related merchandise.
In sponsored publications we explained the situation. We revealed the truth about the system vulnerability and explained why the published articles had contained misleading information.
Thus, we published the sponsored article “New details about vulnerability found on Magento-based websites” on the Technoguide website.
We also published another sponsored article on Gagadget.com — “Ukrainian conslole seller: Magento vulnerability scandal is a fake”.
In two days the sponsored article received 2500 views (1300 of which were unique views). This publication reached as much audience as the editorial articles did.
The article attracted readers’ attention because it contained comments from experts and provided a thorough explanation as to what had really happened. It was a useful article, not an advertisement.
2500 views (1300 unique views)
Finally, the Google search results page (News section) changed to the favor of Super.com.ua. It started showing the truthful information first, displaying the misleading articles just after it. Users now got the real picture of the situation.
Many opinion leaders noticed the contradiction and published commentary on their social media accounts.
In this manner, we helped the online store Super.com.ua to reduce the impact of negative information and dispel their clients’ fears through the presentation of facts and reason.
What you have to do to protect your brand
Negative information spreads faster than good news. Brands should react to negative information immediately. Super.com.ua fought negativity with the help of PRNews.io. Here’s some advice on what to do from the onset to help prevent negative information from spreading.
Setting up the Google Alerts for Super.com.ua
Every time someone publishes content that mentions your brand, you receive an email notification which contains a link to it.
2. If your brand gets any negative comments, contact the media or the website owner who published them. Ask about leaving your expert commentary on the article. Web sites may update the article in question or publish a new one based on the information you provide.
3. Publish the official statement on your website, blog and/or social media accounts.
4. Send press releases which contain truthful information to the media sources your potential customers may read.
5. Make your employees aware of the official standpoint on the issue. Every employee should know how to answer critics and respond to accusations pertaining to personal data stealing issues.
6. Respond to articles and posts about your brand by leaving replies under each comment, on social media and on forums.
Use of sponsored articles to fight negativity
Distributing publications on media not only helps to increase brand awareness, it also helps to get traffic. Sponsored publication and press releases are a great tool for reducing negativity whenever you are faced with a critical situation, and enable a brand to deflect accusations and clarify disputable situations.
You can read about how brand transparency helps sales in the article, “Why Do Brands Need Transparency: Studies and Recommendations.”