Bad news travels fast. What ONE tip would you give an entrepreneur who just spotted some bad brand publicity?
The following answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.
1. Don’t Be an Ostrich
Bad news happens. The worst thing you can do, though, is stick your head in the sand and not react. While there may be strategic reasons NOT to react, it is important to run through possible outcomes for various responses and be proactive in your response, even if the best decision is to ultimately let it lie.
2. Look for the Nugget of Truth
I’ve received my share of harsh criticism and it definitely stings. Instead of taking it personally and getting emotional, take a step back and think about it pragmatically. Almost all negative comments have some bit of truth in them. Look for the nugget of truth in it and use that as fuel to work harder and do better.
3. Stress Your Vision
I’d suggest that they don’t focus on the bad publicity, but stress their vision and get them back on their core message. Instead of putting resources towards countering, commenting on or making an argument of a negative article, just get back to your positive message. Let that outshine the bad PR.
4. Take the Fall
If you’re the CEO, you need to own the mistake and take responsibility (even if you didn’t create the problem). You can sort out who/what on your team caused it later, but the best thing you can do is take the bullet, address the criticism, and not throw anyone else under the bus.
5. Speed Is Key
Bad publicity strikes for all of us at some point in time. The quicker you address it, the better. People will be more sympathetic with you as a result and the overall impact of the bad publicity on your business will be much less than if you wait to address the issue.
6. Be Transparent
Embrace it and respond with dignity. Be transparent with any shortcomings; reconfirm your commitment to your customers and to making things better. People are generally forgiving when it comes to making mistakes – but if they think you’re lying, being deceitful, or holding back the truth, they will crucify you.
7. Don’t React If It’s Not Response-Worthy
There’s a lot of buzz about transparency and being proactive, but not all bad publicity needs to be addressed. One negative blog post may feel to you like a bomb went off, but in reality you may be the only one reading it. Check with your customer service team as well as social channels to see if anyone else has noticed before publicly bringing it to attention, or you could end up making it worse!
8. Always Use Positivity
Address the source in a positive manner. Often, bad publicity is caused by a misunderstanding, which can be worked out if you can connect with the dissatisfied party in a productive manner (without being offensive or defensive yourself).
9. Be Proactive in Advance
Be proactive. Get a variety of positive things posted about you and your company. If you build up enough positive press, you will take less of a hit when something negative is said.
10. Don’t Sweat It
No matter how hard you try some type of bad brand publicity is inevitable. As the saying goes, there is no such thing as bad press, so embrace it! If the bad publicity is something you can comment on in a public forum, like a negative online review, then a timely company response is a sufficient resolution to the issue.