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Blippy Incident Shows Why Tech Startups Need An Organized PR Program

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It’s no secret that many in the tech world disdain PR. foursquare founder Dennis Crowley once told PRNewser that PR “pretty much takes care of itself.” The issue, however, is that many of these tech start-ups equate PR to publicity or “getting press.”

“Hey, I’ve called TechCrunch and gotten my story Tweeted a few hundred times, my job is done,” is the sentiment displayed by some of these tech companies.

But what happens when something goes wrong?


For example, Blippy, a social network that broadcasts user’s credit card purchases online is facing scrutiny today after VentureBeat found Blippy user’s credit card numbers on Google. The story has been picked up by USA Today, CBS News, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and many others.

If you visit the company’s website, there is no statement on the matter. There is also no contact info — not just for a PR contact, but for anyone who works at the company, besides generic contact emails.

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The company did post a statement on a Posterous blog, which only has one post, leading one to believe they started the blog just to address this issue, when they should have been building their social media presence before any issues such as this. The blog is not linked to from Blippy’s website, making it hard to find.

Also, the statement doesn’t go far enough. Not once does the company apologize. Instead, cofounder Philip Kaplan [pictured] said, “While it looks super-scary and certainly sucks for those few people who were affected, and is embarrassing to us, it’s a lot less bad than it looks.”

If the company had a more formal PR or communications program in place before this incident, would that have helped? That is up for debate, however it’s not surprising to see the media pile on to this sensitive user data story.

VentureBeat’s Paul Boutin, who broke the story, told us Blippy PR is being handled by Kaplan. The company has not responded to PRNewser as of the time of this post.

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