As a PR manager or enthusiast, you must have heard of the terminology “Negative PR” and its implications. It is one of the most difficult circumstances in the career of a public relations professional. All major companies in the world have faced negative PR, especially when there are many clients involved. A few PR practitioners will argue that this is the sacrifice you pay to have numerous clients. The biggest mistake some PR practitioners make is to assume that all the bad publicity will go away with time. This is not true. If it is not dealt with properly, negative publicity can cause many problems, especially the loss of revenue. Negative PR or Publicity occurs when damaging published information circulates through the media, which can affect everything from a company’s sales to its reputation. Occasionally, we witness so many huge brands face public backlash because the masses are becoming fully aware of what is right or wrong. The onus is on them to decide what brand is socially responsible or not. Today, anyone can use social media and provide feedback about your brand, whether it’s the right thing to do or not. This act has made so many companies powerless towards customers who review their activities, with competitors who monitor the situation to take advantage of it. No company is exempt from negative publicity because mistakes are always bound to happen, but the big question remains, can negative PR be avoided? Yes, that’s entirely possible, and if that’s not the case, do you have a plan in place if your company happens to find itself in the middle of negative publicity? I will shed more light on this point later in this article.
Why Does Negative Publicity Happen?
Organizations are not the only ones impacted by negative publicity, it can also affect an individual who is a public figure. The following may lead to negative PR:
- An organization’s Internal dirty secrets are disclosed to the public.
- When an organization represents facts and figures that are not true, and it arrives at the public.
- Negative feedback on social media about an organization’s customer service and products.
- When an organization is known for producing substandard products to the detriment of its customers.
How do you Handle Negative Publicity?
Here are a few tips on how to either prevent or control negative publicity:
1. Respond with an Apology
In the face of negative publicity, choosing the first answer is the key to controlling the situation, particularly when the organization is guilty. If not controlled early, it can spread by word of mouth or through a journalist news feed, which will create more bad press for your organization. Reacting immediately to public criticism of your organization is critical, and the fastest way to do that is to issue an apology or a clear explanation of the situation through a press release or statement. If it is negative publicity created as a result of leaked stories about your business, it’s best to resolve it internally and update the public on recent development.
2. Dispel Rumours by Producing Facts
Big organizations often face negative publicity due to fake news from competitors and rivals. When you quickly answer a false rumour by providing the fact to the public, not only will you redeem yourself, but you will inspire confidence in your clients. By quickly disproving false information with the truth, you have the chance to win the loyalty of your clients. The possibility of reputational damage by false facts will most likely happen, However, the key to solving it will depend on the actual facts and the timing of the presentation to the public.
3. Engage With Your Customers in a Humane Way
No company will get far if it does not humanely engage its clients. If you notice that your customers have had a bad experience with your goods and services, engage them as opposed to ignoring them. When you engage them correctly, they start to see the benefits of dealing with your organization. The only way to establish a strong customer service relationship is to apologize when you are wrong and ask your customers to send their feedback and suggestions for a specific phone number or email. And when they provide feedback, value their efforts and thank them, it will show how much you value their input.
4. Use the Negative Publicity to Create Positive Messages about Your Company
My previous three points have pointed out tips on how to treat a negative reputation, but you can also use it to repair your company’s negative reputation. One way to do this is to deliver positive messages about your business during times of crisis. You can do this by creating so much positive content about your organization that could help improve the reputation of your business through Google and social media. Common PR methods like writing various articles and publishing press releases about positive news will certainly help reduce public tension. Another thing to note is to ensure that you respond to negative feedback in a polite manner on social media and review websites. In doing so, customers will gain a better understanding of your business, which will help create positive reviews in no time at all.
5. Monitor your Brand with Social Media
With Media Monitoring tools, you can monitor what people think about your organization on social media. This will help you to be aware of any potential criticism before it becomes a large public problem. With direct knowledge of what customers, influencers and other competitors think of your organization, you have enough time to prepare and engage them with information and solutions that will, over the long term, prevent negative publicity and improve your company’s reputation. This particular point is vital to any organization.