What’s worse, the damage can take years to rectify. There are many ways your brand can
take a hit, ranging from online rants and rumors to unfavourable media coverage, but the
way to treat them is the same if you want to mitigate the damage they will cause.
Here are four tips to handle bad publicity:
Address the root of the problem. Every rumor or online post has a source, which you need
to address if you are to deal with the problem efficiently. When a competitor starts a rumor
about your business or an angry customer is ranting online, localize the effort on them
instead of putting out small fires all over the place by addressing the posts. Approach the
person politely in a non-combative way. Offer facts if they are wrong and an apology if they
are correct (more on this later). Basically you need to take a proactive approach to answer
the negative narrative in a way that will quell it.
Admit When You’re Wrong. Acknowledging mistakes can go a long way. If the criticism
stems from your own mistakes, admitting it is the only way to retain dignity and trust.
Attempting to cover up or avoid responsibility will lead to distrust and resentment. A
company that admits its own mistakes can be trusted to fix them, one that doesn’t will likely
make those mistakes again.
Make Amends. When the blame is on you, the responsibility for fixing the problem is yours
as well. If you go out of your way to make amends to your customers, they will feel you care
about them. When one customer has a problem (late delivery, damaged goods, poor
customer service, anything), hundreds of others are watching. Take the complaint for what it
is - feedback - and use it as a means to grow and improve. It is better to lose some money
now by issuing a full refund, than losing much more in sales later if this customer remains
upset and keeps complaining. Moreover, the good PR that you will gain by dealing with the
problem in a generous manner can be really beneficial.
Recruit Support. Speaking in your own defence is important, but having someone who is
not affiliated with the brand speaks in your favor sends a powerful message. Enlist the
voices of loyal, satisfied customers when you are dealing with bad PR and see it shrink into
For professional issues management counsel, contact PUNCH Canada Vice President
Georgia Sourtzis at firstname.lastname@example.org.