Academic journal article Journal of the International Academy for Case Studies

The Hack Attack at Winter's Tale Publishing: The Marketing Perspective

Academic journal article Journal of the International Academy for Case Studies

The Hack Attack at Winter's Tale Publishing: The Marketing Perspective

Article excerpt


The case can be examined across a business program in multiple courses to provide students with a holistic approach to evaluating the ramifications of business decisions to multiple dimensions of an organization. The case can also be addressed in an individual course. Upon reading, analyzing and discussing the case from the marketing perspective, students should:

1. Be able to understand the importance of Public Relations as a strategic tool and learn to design effective PR strategies.

2. Recognize the necessity of marketing research and its role in solving different business problems.

3. Have the opportunity to utilize their social media knowledge and skills and implement different social marketing strategies


The case can be taught from multiple perspectives in several different courses such as upper level marketing, business strategy, business law, management, forensic accounting/auditing, and information technology management. The course can also be taught in a capstone course containing a classroom of diverse business majors. The following case notes address the issues from the perspective of management. Case coverage should take approximately 30 to 45 minutes of course time. Senior level students may be asked to analyze and write up the case using a case analysis template such as:


Main Problem

Minor Problems (stemming from main problem)

Possible Solutions

Recommended Solution and Implementation

A series of questions may be provided to junior level students such as the following.

1. If you are the marketing consultant for the publishing company, what initial steps will you take to counter the negative press that the company is experiencing following the hack?

The company may be able to distract the attention of the media by highlighting the incredible story of John Winters, a self-made publisher, and his contribution to realizing the dreams of other new authors who lack the resources to get their stories published. The meteoric rise of this independent publishing company made other big time publishing corporations envious, and they would not mind seeing John Winters close his doors forever. Thus, a marketing campaign oriented towards the world of readers, to convince them of the importance of supporting this small company in its troubled times, could be one starting point.

The other approach could be to play victim and show solidarity with other corporations that have been hacked in the past. John could present a more valiant self in the media by openly proclaiming that the hackers cannot stop the release of the new novel. Additionally he may encourage interest in the book by offering discounts for early orders of first editions personally signed by John. Obviously, John would have to revisit some of the chapters in the book and rewrite the content so that the finished product or the story plot or even the characters do not seem to be from the released hacked version. The company can also release a statement that the hackers obtained a rejected draft and published it online before the formal unveiling of the new book.

2. What strategies will you, as the marketing consultant, advise John take to handle the disgruntled former boss and colleagues?

The hacked e-mails and the working draft of John's upcoming novel revealed that the protagonist of the novel is based on John's former boss. A lot of his former professional life is represented in the novel, and John did not make any effort to mask the similarity. This led to a lot of anger and threats of legal action from his former colleagues and boss. In a sticky situation like this, John can first work on changing some of the aspects of the plot of his novel so that the striking resemblance between the protagonist and his former boss is not so obvious. …

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