With an estimated 10 million cyber attacks a day, the question isn’t if a company will get hacked, it’s about how to handle it when it does. As was seen with Target’s own security breach, a poorly handled reaction can result in trust being lost in the company, and both stock and sales will plummet.

Businesses need to be prepared for these eventualities, because a fast response can do a lot for damage control – whereas scrambling for a plan can cause the public to lose faith that a business can be trusted with their data.

Below are 4 ways to ensure being hacked doesn’t turn into a PR nightmare. There are more, but these are definitely at the top of the list of how to best manage cyber-breach PR:

Respond Quickly And Honestly

In the best of times, people can be cynical, and when reading about how a company they’ve given their money to might be the reason their identity gets stolen, they have a big stake in being cynical. Given the serious nature of identity theft, it is imperative that a business demonstrates that they take their customer’s very real concerns seriously.

So be prepared for sincere apologies of course, but also communicate a plan of action that customers and shareholders alike can count on. An apology that comes hand-in-hand with a solution is more than the lip-service that cynical clients might expect.

Create A Public Pathway For Communication For Those Affected

As with all PR, engagement is critical. It is also important to get as much negativity off of a company’s main sites as possible, which is a great reason to create new properties that are specific to the process that clients can be guided to. Having a single site where detailed information is provided, questions can be answered, and solutions can be organized through builds confidence in the company.

Even more importantly, it provides a link away from a company’s other properties, allowing for simple replies that don’t clog up a company’s social media feed with complaints and worries. What happens online, stays online, and redirecting the understandably negative feedback elsewhere not only helps to manage the current situation, it also makes future PR efforts simple to deal with.

Make Sure Communication Is Clear And Concise

When a company’s credibility is on the line, it is imperative that all communication is simple to understand. This means explaining things in a way that is so simple, that it is impossible to come to a different conclusion. The last thing any business needs in a crisis is more questions – and if what is being explained can’t be understood by a third grader, there will be more questions. The public wants simple solutions and explanations that can fit in a Twitter post. Oblige them.

Offer Information

When a cyber attack occurs, customers are not wrong to feel a breach of trust in the business that was hacked. While it may be personal for the business, it’s extremely personal for the people whose data might be in the hands of criminals. Loyalty and trust can’t be bought, but even in today’s digital age, actions speak louder than words. Offer free credit monitoring, discounts, gift-cards – something to compensate clients for a failure in the business’s security.

Not only is it the cost of doing business, it demonstrates in a tangible way how much their business is valued.