While the old adage “There’s no such thing as bad publicity” is still a common saying, the truth is that bad publicity is never good. And try as you might, your company might not be able to avoid it: You’ll most likely face bad publicity somewhere down the road if you haven’t already.
When that bad publicity comes — either because something bad really did happen, or because the media spins it that way — there are a few key ways to reshape the narrative so your company comes out relatively unscathed.
Create an administrative account to monitor review platforms
When bad things are projected onto your business, you need to know all the details about what’s being said, who’s saying it, and where. In this day and age, you have to monitor more than just news on TV or the editorial column in the local paper. You also need to monitor social media accounts on multiple platforms and keep an eye on numerous business review platforms, too. To accomplish that, start by creating an administrative (i.e., “admin”) account with each site to monitor what is said.
Examples of websites where you can establish an administrative account include:
- Yelp, where many consumers read business reviews and post their own.
- Google My Business, which includes reviews and info on your business location and services.
- BBB, or the Better Business Bureau, where you need to promptly respond to any complaints.
- Angie’s List (and similar B2C sites), where consumers search for services and read reviews.
Monitor conversations on social media
Spend an hour checking these sites every day. Respond in a professional manner to negative comments and graciously thank those who have praised your business. When you respond to negative comments that have legitimate reasoning behind them, try to resolve those issues. If that’s not possible, you can edit or delete those comments instead.
Make your website the best possible source for information
To serve those savvy consumers who realize going straight to the source is always best, ensure that your website is the absolute best place for information about your business. Post regular updates, even on unpleasant situations, so your consumers and the general public can see how you’re handling things. If rumors of a bad situation have traveled quickly, your website is where you can debunk the rumors and shut down the rumor mill. Of course, if your business doesn’t have a website yet – or if you’re operating with just a simple landing page – now’s the time to invest in one. Partner with an SEO-savvy agency like this that knows how to design effective websites and optimize them for search engines, and you’ll be able to set the record straight with accurate information while attracting new business with your snappy new website.
Post press releases with reliable media outlets
Never avoid talking to the media. Avoidance can make things look much worse for you and your company. Instead, agree to post press releases with reliable media outlets, both local and regional. If your business extends beyond your state’s borders, put press releases in national newspapers and on national news channels as well. Avoid all yellow journalism sources, since these media outlets only print sensationalized pieces that won’t help you or your company.
Hire a public relations firm
If your efforts to reshape a narrative don’t work, hire a public relations firm. These professionals manage company affairs in the media and are capable of making even the worst situations look better. A public relations firm can help you address any type of situation, smoothing things over in the media so your business can re-establish trust with your customers and with the public as a whole.
Summing it up
There are several things you can do to redirect the misleading media and point people to the correct and truthful information. Take these steps right away to turn a situation around. Things can resolve much more quickly if you focus on not avoiding the bad situation, but rather reining it in before it gets out of hand.
In most instances, a simple customer complaint can be remedied with a generous and professional response. More serious issues can be addressed through the use of media outlets and news releases. When in doubt or when the media has really gotten things wrong, hire a public relations firm to make things right.
You can also hire a public relations firm to monitor business reviews and social media sites for you. This allows you to get back to focusing on your company and its daily operations rather than spending a lot of valuable time trying to address consumer issues and complaints.