If you’re a DTC company or work in a highly visable emerging industry, you’ve no doubt seen headlines about cyber breaches like malware and hacks that demand millions of bitcoin. In fact, 46% of all cyber breaches impact businesses with fewer than 1,000 employees (source). As the world becomes more digitized and cybercrime increases, the need for cyber insurance is something businesses should not overlook. If your company sells online, handles, transmits, or stores sensitive data, you need to know about these 3 types of cyber insurance.

Cyber insurance protects businesses from the monetary and reputational losses arising from a cyber incident that could jeopardize their future. It covers financial losses caused by events such as data breaches, cyber theft, ransomware, rogue employees, and simple mistakes and it covers crisis PR, up to a point.

Since most businesses often lack the resources or budgets of big corporations, cyber insurance can provide critical financial protection in the event of a cyberattack, helping them recover quickly.

Although insurers may have their own specific classifications, cyber insurance can be divided into three broad categories:

Cybertheft insurance

With more and more businesses storing sensitive data online, the risk of cyber theft is more prominent than ever. As a result, adequate insurance against this growing threat is critical. Cybertheft insurance protects businesses from financial losses caused by digital theft. This type of insurance can cover a variety of cybertheft scenarios, including first-party cybertheft, embezzlement scams, payroll redirection, and gift card scams.

Businesses of all sizes can be victims of cybertheft, and no business is too small to need cyber theft insurance.  Cyber incidents are so common, it’s not a matter of if, but when, your company will experience an incident. What will you do if your data or digital assets will be stolen? That’s why cyber theft insurance is so important for your business.

Cyber liability insurance

Cyber liability insurance includes third-party coverage for damages and losses, data breaches, regulatory penalties, credit monitoring, and lawsuits. This is an important type of insurance if you’re a DTC or e-commerce brand.

Cyber liability insurance is a vital tool for small businesses like yours because the financial ramifications of a cybersecurity breach can be more severe than you can handle. This does not mean you should panic right now; it simply means that having cyber liability insurance can help your business recover and move forward, even after a breach, without being stunted.

Planning is critical for reducing your data and brand liability with a security breach.

Cyber extortion insurance/ransomware insurance

Cyber extortion insurance protects businesses against ransomware attacks. Cyber extortion attacks often come with a clicking clock, so it’s important to have a plan. This type of insurance can help cover the cost of ransom payments, recovery expenses, business interruptions, and more. It can also provide access to a team of experts who can help with cyber extortion negotiations and forensics.

Keep in mind that an attack could still succeed even with the right cybersecurity solutions in place to protect your business. That’s why it’s critical to have cyber extortion insurance. It can help you recover from a ransomware attack and reduce the financial impact.

While you’re looking, keep these types of cyber insurance in mind. Cyber insurance is a complicated and ever-changing industry. Many factors can influence whether you qualify for a payout in the event of a cyberattack, and trying to remain compliant with your insurance policy can be difficult. Working with an IT service provider can help you better understand your options and ensure that you have adequate security in place, increasing your chances of receiving complete coverage.

Cyber insurance provides critical peace of mind, but you will still need to be prepared in case of an incident in order to have a successful claim. That’s why we’ve teamed up with Ignite Solutions to provide you with a risk analysis and cyber attack plan that ensures you get through the first 48 hours. Our cyber incident planning service protects your data AND your brand. 

 

It’s an innocent mistake. Someone in your company clicks on a phishing link and suddenly customer data and private company information are at risk. It’s a terrifying thought. Outside of enterprise companies, most companies don’t have the internal know-how to mitigate the risks. That’s exactly why cyber insurance is the hottest new protection for everyone from emerging industries and ambitious consumer brands to tech startups. Cyber insurance is one way to help your business recover following a cyberattack. It covers financial losses caused by events such as data breaches, cyber theft, ransomware, and more. But few people understand these new policies. Because of the complicated nature of cyber insurance, there are a lot of myths out there that can be harmful to your business if you fall for them. Plus, as we always say, the best time to manage a crisis is before the crisis. Let’s debunk these 4 cyber insurance myths together. 

First, cyber insurance typically covers the cost of:

  • Recovering data
  • Legal proceedings
  • PR crisis management: notifying stakeholders such as customers and or investors about the incident
  • Restoring the personal identities of those affected
  • Extortion fees

You can see why cyber insurance policies are in high demand. They cover all the bases of your worst nightmare. And yet, there is a lot of fine print in most policies, so it’s important to ask questions and know what isn’t included in your cyber insurance premiums.

Myth #1: All I need to protect my business from cyber threats is a cyber insurance plan

This could not be further from the truth. Your insurance provider will only cover your business if you meet the requirements outlined in your contract. Most reputable insurers will require proof that you have followed the proactive cyber measures outlined in your policy. If you can’t prove your compliance, your claims are unlikely to be paid.

One of the most common insurance requirements is that you have top-tier cybersecurity protection. Another common requirement is evidence of a solid plan in place should you have an incident. You often see these plans referred to as table-top exercises, and they are typically done from a purely technical basis, so Avaans Media has teamed up with Ignite Solutions to cover your technical and brand bases should you experience a cyber incident. A plan like that could help you get cyber insurance, lower your rates, and provide a template for the recovery of both data and brand. Plus, if you ever are breached, you’ll have a team of experts who already know you and your company.

Myth #2: I don’t need insurance since I have cybersecurity solutions

Even though cybersecurity solutions can bolster your defenses, they don’t make you immune to cyber incidents. Yes, cybersecurity solutions reduce the risk of a cyberattack by identifying and protecting vulnerable points in your system. However, no solution can completely protect against all threats because staying on top of emerging risks is challenging. Yes, we absolutely recommend ongoing monitoring, but remember, it only take a second, and human error always results in vulnerabilities in a system, regardless of how secure it is. That’s why it’s a good idea to have a cyber insurance policy in place to fall back on in case of an incident.

Myth #3: Cyber insurance is easy to get

As technology advances, so do the occurrences of cyber incidents. With small and medium-sized businesses being the most susceptible targets of cybercriminals because of a lack of enterprise-level protection, the likelihood of an attack is high. Cyber incidents are so frequent and costly, that insurers have been losing money with their policies. As you can imagine, that’s not sustainable for anyone. Insurers are reluctant to provide coverage since the risks are significant. While policies are still available, they are becoming more expensive and difficult to obtain. This is why proactive steps will help you secure a quality insurance policy. Know what you will do and who will do it. This kind of planning could save you millions of dollars in lost revenue, not to mention brand damage. For example, should you turn off your computers if you’re breached? Who pauses all social media and outgoing emails to clients while the breach is active? Who will talk to the press?

Myth #4: My policy will handle my claims in case there’s an incident

If you can’t prove that you’ve complied with your cyber insurance policy’s prerequisites, your claim will probably be rejected. More and more, insurers are requiring you to complete a series of steps to reinforce your policy. Some of these steps are technical, and some are operational. Covering your bases with an IT service provider and your PR team to develop a plan increases the likelihood of claim approval. An expert PR and IT service provider can help you remain compliant with your cyber insurance policy and provide evidence of such compliance. The best time to handle a crisis is before it happens and never is this more true than with cyber incident planning. Plus, knowing that you know what to do and how to do it will give you peace of mind whenever you see another security breach headline.

Partner for success

It’s crucial not to fall for the above myths about cyber insurance so that your business qualifies for a policy and receives the coverage you pay for. However, it’s also important to remember that cyber insurance is something that demands a lot more time and effort than you might have.

For more information on protecting your data and your brand, contact us. 

PR is still a critical component of any cannabis brand’s consumer product strategy. And you might find that PR is expensive, so you might ask yourself, “how can I get PR for my cannabis business?” There are two reasons to ask this question. The first is you want to hire a PR professional in-house, the second might be you’re trying to save money on your PR agency budget.  Either way, you’ll want to dig more deeply in order to find your place in PR and maximize your financial or time investment.

 

  1. Define Your Story

    If you’ve ever heard someone say, “that’s not news,” it’s because there isn’t enough meat on the bone for your story. Case in point, being a minority-owned cannabis business, by itself, is not a story. But if you’re the first minority-owned cannabis business to set up a scholarship fund for minority students, that could be a story – especially if it ties in with the start or end of school. And whatever your story is, give it the lift it needs with data and noticeable numbers. You’ll find that cannabis journalists respond positively to stories that have enough background and information to write a piece about. Especially when it touches on trending topics. Be the brand or company that comes to a journalist with the solution to a cultural problem and you’ll find you can get more PR for your cannabis business, regardless of whether it comes from in-house or an agency.

  2. Entertain Us

    From nostalgia to a cultural wink, pulling off a fun stunt, something that makes people look twice and laugh, almost always gets some PR attention. The attention may be from the press, or it might be as social media coverage, but getting your product in front of new people, or giving your current customers a reason to share your email with their friends, is priceless. And even if you don’t get massive reach on your stunt, you’ll have attached fun and happiness to your brand for those who saw it. This is how advertising campaigns get media coverage as well. You’ll find that Clio award-winning work very often has a wink and a smile behind it. Everyone appreciates the opportunity to have a little fun, so lean in and make your campaigns do double duty to get PR for your cannabis business.

  3. Activate with Partners

    On the surface, sponsorships are rarely PR worthy. But what sponsorships might do is give you access to an opportunity to tell your story to the right people. When our client Elixinol sponsored the press booth at events in key media cities and then activated that sponsorship with a locally popular, Super Bowl-winning, football star to talk about his experience with the product after considerable head injuries during his professional career. By itself, having a spokesperson may or may not be notable, but the sponsorship provided access to the press to make sure they knew about the athlete, the athlete’s story was compelling, and there was a local tie-in that was easy for journalists to grab onto.

  4. Incorporate Digital Savvy

    If you’re leading a plant-touching cannabis brand, you might be tempted to curtail your cannabis website’s digital presence. That’s a mistake. Today’s editors wear many hats, but it boils down to this: content that attracts eyeballs so they can earn money. The old-fashioned way for newsrooms to make money was straight-up advertising. But digital PR changed all that and today there are so many ways for an editor to juice the revenue for their outlet. Case in point, for the cannabis industry, sponsored posts are a common augmentation to a campaign. They’re relatively easy to create, and they can secure a solid inbound link for your website. Plus, eventually, cannabis brands will be able to do what other consumer product brands have been doing: use affiliate networking as a honeypot for product coverage. Use Google to get more frequent PR for your cannabis company.

Whether you’re hiring a cannabis PR agency or doing PR in-house, earning media coverage for your cannabis brand will take some work, but that work will be well worth it for years to come.

Marketing and PR during a recession? Who does that? Well, the answer may surprise you: brands that grow the fastest. Why? Studies who brands that market during recessions gain additional advantages because it’s less noisy and easier to be seen and heard. Make your marketing and PR budget go further by tapping into these consumer trends.

Consumer Brands: Remember the Lipstick Effect

Coined by Leonard Lauder in 2001, the term “lipstick effect” when he observed that lipstick sales are inversely correlated to economic health. Why? Because consumers still want to treat themselves and small indulgences fit the bill, even during economic downturns. Luxury lifestyle brands do this with their perfume and makeup offerings. Yes, $69 for Hermes lipstick is a lot for lipstick, but for the Hermes customer or aspirational customer, $69 is an easy purchase compared to a $6,000 purse. Consumer PR and marketing during a recession can help you gain market share and grow when you offer your customers a way to sport your brand without making a gigantic purchase.

What’s your brand’s “lipstick”? What is the product that makes customers feel like they’re treating themselves without large expenditure? 

Find the Fun with Your Customers

What did the post-pandemic consumer teach us? They want fun and frivolity in the pandemic’s wake – and they STILL want that, perhaps even more, with all the gloomy news about a recession. While you, as a CEO, or CMO, might feel doubly beat up, it’s really up to you to bring the fun. From marketing to PR, if you give consumers something fun to talk about or a sense of escapism, consumers will find a way to your party, because they really want to have fun. So while you may be cutting your marketing or PR budget, make sure the things you keep are fun-filled. Not only will this improve your bottom line, it will attach fun to your consumer’s experience of your brand, which means they’ll associate you with fun after the recession too.

What’s your customer’s ideal way to escape? Find them and play with them there. 

Make Lasting Memories with Nostalgia

When uncertainty strikes, consumers love to “remember when.” Whether it’s nostalgia-based packaging or scents to connections to movies and songs, yesterday always brings comfort to consumers. If you’re a legacy brand with long-time customers, then you should absolutely take this opportunity to remind your customers of the good ole days you had together. If you’re a new brand and you don’t have that depth, you can trigger fond memories through partnerships and advertising.

What era makes your customers nostalgic?

Avoid Deep Discounts that Train Customers

If you train your customers to wait until the next sale, they will never buy if there isn’t one, whether or not there is a recession. Resist the urge to devalue your own brand right now. Not only do price discounts squeeze your margins during a time when you can least afford them, constant discounting feels desperate. Desperation is never a great look, especially for luxury brands. To maintain brand and positioning, the beloved cupcake brand Sprinkles resisted the urge to discount during the pandemic:

“Customers had been taught by other bakeries to expect that the product at the end of the day was worth less than at the beginning. But with our just-in-time baking system, these cupcakes were as fresh as their morning relatives. Even then, as tempting as it was to sell off those last few cupcakes at a discount right before closing, I knew we had to stand firmly behind the price. I preferred to donate those cupcakes than to eat into the value of our brand.” -Candace Nelson, founder.

The better option is to carve out a single day (or two) that your brand will offer value pricing, and when you do, look for ways to add value to your current price rather than discounting the product itself. You could offer a gift with purchase or a VIP experience.

Budget planning for marketing and PR during a recession feels less fun than when budgets are flush, but the reality is, you can make major headway during a recession AND you can enjoy the process and the output just as much if not more.

If you’re a smaller consumer brand, it might feel impossible to compete with the big guys. But according to Nielsen, in the United States “manufacturers outside of the top 100 have contributed to 52% of their region’s annual fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) growth,” that’s an incredibly promising trend for any consumer product, from skincare to cannabis. But the challenges to increasing market share aren’t imagined. In some categories, especially consumables, over 50% of consumers have no brand preference. This underscores the importance of small, independent CPG brands to invest in branding with awareness and loyalty strategies. Neilsen IQ has done some fantastic research for small, independent DTC and CPG brands.

Nielsen Chart for Consumer Product Brand Loyalty

 

 

 

 

 

69% of consumers are actively looking for new and trendy CPG products. Tapping into current trends is a key way to appeal to this audience.  Whether the brand is launching, or already launched, there are always PR opportunities to increase sales by driving awareness and loyalty. The key takeaway on all the most recent Neilsen data: premiumization is absolutely key for small, independent CPG brands. 

Driving Awareness for Small Consumer Brands

When Snapple tea was a small independent brand, it relied on PR, including crazy stunts with two ambitions in mind: acquisition and sales. When they were acquired by Quaker Oats, the PR stunts stopped and sales decreased. In fact, PR is often responsible for trends that drive consumers. Before CBD, a wellness ingredient that almost everyone now knows was allowed to advertise, it relied on firms like Avaans Media to create PR campaigns that educated consumers and created awareness for their brands. PR is almost single-handedly responsible for launching CBD into the public’s general knowledge. Other wellness products have benefited from PR, including melatonin.

Independent brands often turn to PR because while PR is an investment, it’s still more affordable than many other branding initiatives such as advertising, especially when you include videography costs. Facebook is famous for launching thousands of new DTC brands, but of late, many independent CPG brands are finding Facebook’s advertising to be less effective. Ambitious consumer product brands are turning to PR in ever greater numbers to reach consumers, and stay in front of buyers. A PR campaign can reach hundreds of billions of annual impressions. Is it any wonder that everyone from new consumer products to old standbys is moving dollars to PR?

New CPG brands can use PR to validate the brand. An upfront burst of PR is a powerful trust indicator. Many consumer brand startups showcase PR wins on their website and in advertising as a way to increase consumer trust. Independent boutique products use PR to nail their launch because they need to appeal directly and immediately to their consumer. As Nielsen notes in small brand, “There is little room for error in small launches. Nailing your activation requires planning and strategic execution. Whatever your differentiation—hitting your target, justifying your premium or communicating a new usage occasion—it must land, and land well,”

 

Driving Loyalty for Independent CPG Brands

If your consumer brand isn’t exactly new, but also isn’t a household name, then using PR to increase loyalty and awareness is effective. 25% of consumers are mainstream followers who sometimes try new products, but don’t seek them. This is a critical audience to penetrate. If you’re broadening your audience to this important, but slightly elusive group, you want to make sure your customer product reviews are solid, and that your early PR had at least 1-2 tier 1 press hits so you can use the ever-so-important social proof to lure this audience in.  Good PR also allows existing customers to have their choice validated and is a great opportunity for them to sing your praises to their friends.

But that’s not the only way PR helps early and mid-stage CPG brands. PR helps your customers see you understand who they really are. Bob’s Red Mill used PR to improve its already stellar reputation through purpose-driven storytelling. Not only does PR help new consumers find your product, but it also reinforces the good choice your current customers have made. A good PR firm will help you identify ways to differentiate and to secure brand-improving earned media.