I am always amazed at how much of public relations is simply thinking smart. Yet it is equally amazing how often organizations fail to do exactly that. We have another new opportunity in the PR craft to see who the winners and losers will be. This one centers on the ATM industry.
April 8 is the day Microsoft cuts off support for the Windows XP operating system. Most ATMs that upgrade will shift to Windows 7. The costs involved in the upgrade are predicted to prompt some ATM companies to delay execution. That is where things become interesting. Nick Summers reports on the associated PR challenges on the horizon (“ATMs Lurch into a New Century” Bloomberg Businessweek, 1/20/14–1/26/14, pp. 37–38):
“ATMs whose operators ignore the deadline will continue to function, says Dean Stewart, an executive at Diebold, which makes ATMs. They’ll just become more vulnerable to malware and other attacks against weaknesses discovered over time in Windows XP. . . . ‘It’s a very real risk,’ Stewart says. ‘No ATM operator wants to get his name in the paper.’” (p. 38)
And yet, how many of them will?
Therein lies the PR challenge . . . and opportunity. For those companies that want to make the smart PR move while dodging any negative PR, upgrading the ATMs is the obvious solution. Moreover, whenever you make a smart PR decision, the automatic question should always be can we make it even smarter? That is exactly what some companies are doing:
“There already is another deadline to consider: the 2015 switch to cards embedded with secure microchips. Amid reports of the recent theft of as many as 40 million card records from Target, some ATM operators are upgrading to the chip-based hardware at the same time they ditch Windows XP.” (p. 38)
That is not just thinking smart, that is thinking smarter. That is good PR. In the meantime, get your scorecards out. It should be an interesting game.