As the banking industry becomes increasingly digitized, banks face new challenges to secure their online banking systems and transactions. Such was the case faced by BRI in March.

News about suspected leakage of customer data broke in the first week of March, but before the bank had time to recover the bank was buffeted a few days later by news of a skimming case that resulted in missing funds from customers’ accounts.

Since the first coverage about the issue appeared on March 12, the number of articles in the 20 most prominent media monitored by Maverick continued to increase and, as seen on Table 1 below, it finally peaked on March 16 with 48 articles. Overall, there was a total of 190 articles on the issue; a significant amount comprising 48% of BRI’s total coverage in March, and about 29% of BRI’s total coverage in Q1 2018.

These events boosted the overall level of BRI media coverage to an all-time high of both its monthly coverage (396 articles in March) and its quarterly coverage (662 articles in Q1 2018). It even broke BRI’s record in Q2 2016 when the issue of BRI satellite launch boosted the bank’s coverage and helped it surpass that of other BUKU IV banks.

You’d think that such massive coverage on a “negative” issue would be detrimental for the bank.

Not so, however, if you dig a bit deeper by examining the tonality and Media Performance Index (an index developed by Maverick to measure the impact of articles on a brand).

Negative-toned articles on the bank dominated the news for only the first two days after the news broke, but once the bank proactively communicated with the media the tonality of the articles switched to neutral March 14 onwards.

Neutral-toned coverage rose exponentially and peaked on March 15, mostly thanks to the clarification given by BRI’s several executives. BRI Corporate Secretary Bambang Tribaroto (35 articles) and BRI Digital Banking and Information Technology Director Indra Utoyo (31 articles) became the two most quoted spokespersons on the issue.

Bambang mostly talked about BRI’s internal investigation and the refunds of customers’ missing funds, while Indra was mostly quoted on BRI’s plan to apply a biometric system and to accelerate migration from magnetic stripe to chip debit cards as the bank’s measures to prevent cybercrime cases from happening again.

Additionally, BRI President Director Suprajarto (15 articles) and BRI Consumer Business Director Handayani (14 articles) were also quoted by many media. Overall, most of the coverage after March 14 quoted the response from one of the bank’s executives which explains the overwhelming increase in neutral-toned coverage.

Given the tonality distribution, the next question would be how does it translate to BRI’s coverage quality?

In Q1 2018, BRI recorded the highest prominent page in all elements except in placement where the bank stood at the lowest position. Furthermore, despite recording 44 negative-toned articles, BRI was able to retain its 8.0 Media Performance Index (MPI), only 0.1 point short from being even with BNI which recorded the highest MPI among BUKU IV banks. The 8.0 MPI also means that BRI was able to retain its average MPI throughout 2017. Hence, the number of neutral- and positive-toned articles, as well as the quality of BRI’s coverage, were good enough to prevent the negative coverage from bringing down its overall coverage quality.

The Chinese characters for crisis is an amalgam of two radicals that symbolize danger and opportunity, underscoring the fact that a company can turn a “negative” event to its favor if it acts and communicates to the media decisively and skillfully.

During that quarter four BRI executives were among the Top 10 quoted spokespersons in the industry. Bambang Tribaroto received a 43% boost from being quoted on the coverage about the skimming case, while Suprajarto and Handayani received 10% and 13% boost, respectively.

In BRI’s case the bank seems to have come out ahead after the “crisis”, thanks to the collective efforts of its top executives who were at the forefront of telling the bank’s side of the story to the media. Kudos to the bank and its crisis management team for integrating their communications response to the operations response.

Written by Lidya Sophiani, our Media Analyst.

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