How to Handle Bad Publicity
Bad publicity can happen to good businesses. It is one of the risks of being an entrepreneur. How you handle the bad publicity can make or break your business future. Handle it poorly and your business could be over in a matter of weeks. Manage bad publicity well and you can come out the other side a stronger, better, and more profitable business. Sounds good, right? Let’s explore some of the best practices, rules of thumb, and generally good ideas.
Leave it Alone
In some instances you just need to keep quiet when you receive bad publicity. Don’t argue. Don’t insult. And don’t pick a fight. Sometimes people on the Internet are critical simply because they can be. If the bad publicity is false and unwarranted, you may want to leave it alone. It’s a safer bet than calling someone a liar. And haters often destroy their own credibility without you having to say a word.
Apologize and Be Diplomatic
If the unhappy person or company is in the right, or at least partially right, then you can step in and start making amends. Apologize, acknowledge your mistakes (without calling out theirs) and begin to make amends. If you make these amends publicly, then you’re leveraging the negative publicity to showcase your strengths and desire to be a customer-centric company.
Have a plan in place to manage negative publicity. This means knowing who is going to handle talking to the critic, who is going to talk to the press, and what materials you’re going to provide to the media. In a publicity crisis, communication is the top priority. Make sure that everyone is informed promptly and honestly, and take steps to ensure that all of your communications are aligned. It doesn’t work if your PR manager is saying one thing to the media while your sales manager is saying something else. Sometimes a public statement and a press release can turn the situation around.
Prevent It. Be Proactive
Prevent bad publicity. Stay on top of your customer issues, concerns, and complaints. Create systems that keep tabs on social media, brand management, and your customer service department. Even small issues can blow up into major ordeals. Work hard to be accountable, transparent, and organized.
Keep in mind that bad press is often offset by great performance. When you have an issue with a customer, whether it’s a small scale concern or a major media frenzy, how you handle the issue and how your company performs in a time of crisis makes all the difference. Be prepared. Be decisive about your reaction and be honest with your audience.