Losing Brand Control

As hard as you try, sometimes you just can’t keep a comfortable level of brand control. There are ways you can work towards controlling your messaging, but what happens if things go off the rails?

Here are four situations you might face where you will have to deal with a glitch in your brand control.

Situation #1: Social media trolls

They’re out there. Beware of the social media trolls. They have an uncanny ability to twist your words into any meaning they want and drive negativity in alarming ways. Because we are in the age of faux rage and internet mobs, trolls can have an unpleasant effect on what you are trying to accomplish with your brand.

In this case, you came under unfriendly fire on one of your social media posts or ads. Someone commented something that was less than appealing to you as a brand.

Solution A: One thing you can do, if it is obvious that someone is trying to get a rise out of you, is ignore them. Sure, it feels like you are losing a battle, but sometimes you have to pick your battles wisely. Block them/report them, and move on. No amount of logical appeal will change how they act online.

Solution B: If you do decide to respond, your first response should never be out of anger or panic. Take a deep breath and craft your response in a separate document (you don’t want to hit send by accident before you’re ready!). Write it, then edit yourself, then read it out loud, then have someone else read it (if you can). Remember that a little bit of humour goes a long way in these situations. Chances are if you can laugh at yourself, you’re going to attract a few fans.

Situation #2: The media got it wrong

We’re all human, and things can get lost in translation. You’ve got a Google alert set up for your name and you see that a media publication has picked up on a topic that you discussed on your social media channels. They got your name right, but your brand name is misspelled beyond recognition and the link is going to the wrong website.

Solution: Remember that you are dealing with a human being and the way you handle the situation could either make a great relationship for you at the publication or prevent you from getting any further media coverage at the publication. The journalist likely has their contact information listed either at the bottom of the article or on their author page. Write up a brief email introducing yourself, thanking them for the nod in their latest article, and asking if it would be possible to update the brand name and link. Keep it conversational and as far away from accusatory as possible.

Situation #3: A bad media interview

It happens. You think you’re prepared and when you sit down with the journalist to answer their questions, you either forget to touch on some of your key messages, or you don’t quite know the answer to something and you “wing it” with some random semi-factual information.

Solution A: Depending on when the journalist’s deadline is, you can send a quick email after your interview saying that you forgot to mention a couple of things. Often, they will be grateful for the added info if it adds to the story. Keep your email short and concise so it doesn’t mean added work for them to sift through a lot of information. If what you have to add doesn’t add to the overall story, forget about it and move on.

Solution B: The best solution to giving semi-truths in an interview is prevention. Rather than feeling pressured to give an answer that you are unsure of right away. It is best to say something like, “I am not 100% sure. Let me check and I will get back to you later today.” If you are caught in a lie, it reflects poorly on your brand. If you do happen to say something you shouldn’t, send a quick email after the interview and let the journalist know that you weren’t quite accurate on that statistic or that piece of information. Give them the correct information and thank them for their time.

Situation #4: A Bad Review

Some people think bad reviews are the end of the world, but they can be a huge opportunity to create loyalty to your brand. You received a bad review on either Yelp, Facebook, Google, or another online channel.

Solution A: If they haven’t given specifics, ask them what happened, then find a solution. Keep your responses short and simple, and remove emotion from the equation. Chances are, you can use this as an opportunity to make your product/service offering better. Once a solution has been agreed upon, thank them for their feedback.

Solution B: No one wants to see you fighting with a customer if they are unhappy. If you feel like you are getting nowhere on the public forum, take it offline. Ask for their email or offer your email so you can connect offline to get to the bottom of what happened and come up with a solution that they are happy with.

A version of this article was originally posted to the SongBird Marketing Communications Blog.