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Managing the Challenges of Bad Publicity


Bad publicity can be considered a rite of passage for some organizations, and many companies even see it as an inevitability. Both big and small businesses are subject to receiving various forms of negative comments and publicity. In some instances, big companies receive backlash from media organizations on TV news stations and smaller companies receive complaints from local customers on social media platforms and review. While the old saying is that “there is no such thing as bad publicity,” brands and PR professionals understand that negative coverage can hurt businesses. If you ever find yourself in a sticky PR situation, consider the following tips before publicly addressing the issue.

Think Before Reacting

If your business receives negative publicity, whether you feel the statements are true or not, be sure to remain calm. It’s easy to get caught up in the moment and write an immediate response, especially on social media. However, you have to make sure your response is going to alleviate the tension between you and the people who have spoken ill of your business. If you’ve already received bad publicity, the last thing you need is to draw more negative attention.

1. Know the Whole Story: Make sure you’re aware of the entirety of the negative feedback your organization received.

2. Study Positive Brand Interactions: The truth of the matter is that your business is not the first to receive bad publicity and it certainly won’t be the last. Look at companies that have dealt with similar situations and see how they have successfully (or unsuccessfully) responded to bad publicity.

3. Get Another Opinion: Once you’ve drafted your response, ask you members of your C-suite or co-workers to share their opinion on your response. Communication is tricky, so getting other perspectives is the key to making sure your response appeals to more than just one audience.

Don’t be too Defensive

It’s easy to feel defensive when someone publicly criticizes your brand. Having said that, we urge you not to jump the gun by responding right away. Many customers don’t know the level of work you have put into your business, and you might feel like the negative review was uncalled for. However, as a business owner, you must think about the effects your response could have on that specific customer’s brand allegiance. Your public response will also be out there for future customers to see. What may seem as “just one response” could play a big role in shaping the perception of your client relations. If your business is suddenly receiving loads of bad press, we suggest you follow the three steps previously outlined before you send out a public message on behalf of your company.

Always Listen

Even if you believe the criticism your brand is receiving is unjust, you must try your best to understand the reasons why someone is disappointed or angry at you or your business. Even if the customer may genuinely be misguided, he or she might still be able to reveal some process in your organization that can be improved. Since angry customers and critics have already established and vocalized their opinions on our brand, they may provide insight into something you might have missed. Try to understand why they feel that way and analyze ways to address the issue so that it is not repeated. Some cases may call for simple solutions, but if not, create a dialogue and be understanding and open to change. You don’t have to agree with everything a negative review or comment says, but listening can show the rest of your audience that you care about what your clients think and you’re open to listening. Take the time to respond and view it as an opportunity to show the efficacy of your business’ relations.

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Priscilla Osorio

Priscilla is the marketing coordinator for Critical Mention. Early on in her career, she developed a passion for marketing, writing and anything within the communication field. During her leisure time, she loves to watch her favorite sports teams and explore new restaurants with friends and family.