“Have you heard the saying “Any publicity is good publicity”.
Oh boy, It turns out that this is wrong, in fact very wrong most of the time. In years gone by bad pr was easily covered up, now it can go viral faster than ever before as we spend more time interacting via social platforms and online resources.
Nothing travels faster than the speed of light with the possible exception of bad news, which obeys its own special laws.
Douglas Adams, “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”
Companies always want to be seen in a positive light. Reputation Management is an area of concern to many industries, unfortunately many of them do not put a plan in place to respond when negative news starts its rollout.
Sometimes it can be negative press about your company, one of your products or even just about your industry. You may also find that with the opening up of directories to public reviews you may be hit with individuals bad-mouthing your company in Google, Yell, Tripadvisor or another business listing area. Bad PR is often quickly rolled out via blogs and their comments and this news travels fast. Twitter is one of the biggest hitters in the ‘Bad PR’ world and when not nipped in the bud can spread like a virus amongst other followers.
My recommendations are to respond fast and effectively in these directories and on Twitter, even if it is with an apology and empathy to show how problems can and will be resolved. The worst thing you can do is let it stay and rot or even worse try and delete the users and comments, you risk getting up their back and them coming back at you with verbal reinforcements (or at least family and friends online). You will be amazed how many of these directories, articles and tweets are viewed and how damaging it can be to your business as people believe what they see.
As an example of what you believe online, have you ever thought of booking a nice hotel then gone onto a review site only to find the rooms, food, and customer service have got a slating from a few guests over the last few months? the chances are that not only does this put you off booking to go there but it will be putting thousands of others off too. So monitor your social media and online presence closely and work fast to follow up to bad press. These days the Internet means that good or bad news can spread faster than you can catch your breath so plan a couple of times a day to monitor your companies online presence or receive alerts and you will stay on the ball.
If you are in a small organisation you may be able to pick up your defenses quickly, if in a larger organisation and looking after your brand or PR then you may have a global brand presence and share prices to consider.
You will probably want to post an instant response on your website as a lot of people will head there to see whats going on. Out of hours, you may need to make a quick tweet. Do you know who looks after your website editing and social media and would they be contactable 24 hours a day? Can you create a quick public press release, do you have a PR contact to write and distribute within hours and who would need to approve this? Do you know which senior staff needs to be made available for interviews with the press in order to provide the company’s view on whatever event is being reported?
You could of course just forget all this and maybe just shut yourself in a closet, run and hide in a forest or just sit back discussing what to do whilst your company takes a virtual battering. My guess after reading this post is about 10% of you will prepare for future eventualities and begin to monitor your social media and the others will put it to one side while you continue to grow your business online. I know who I’d rather be when the brown stuff hits the fan. Believe me, a little preparation goes a long way to protecting your brand and your business reputation.
So why should you respond quickly to bad press online?
It’s simple, it could cost you thousands, ruin your brand, your reputation, and hand business to competitors on a plate if you don’t. Are you ready to let that happen?