How to Handle Negative Press
Whenever I get the opportunity to play a part, albeit small sometimes, in helping to make a bad situation good, it always makes the day a little better. Recently, a writer had some not-so-favorable things to say about one of our clients. They weren’t overly negative—well, he did compare the company to the sinking Titanic—but it certainly warranted an immediate discussion with our client and a few recommendations of courses of action.
When you find a client in the middle of negative press coverage, there are a couple of approaches you can recommend:
The ostrich with its head in the sand*: This is when you try to pretend the situation doesn’t exist. NEVER, EVER a good idea. Whether you like it or not, the negative press coverage is there and in today’s interactive media, it can spread quickly and escalate into an even bigger mess if not addressed properly.
I know you are, but what am I: This is when you go on the defensive and try to dispute every single claim made against you. Unless the facts presented in the piece are just out-right incorrect, then this isn’t typically a good idea. Often times, the opinion the journalist is presenting is close to the public perception of the company/product. Your job is to help change that perception, not tell people they are wrong.
Taking your medicine: One of the best things you can do to build customer loyalty is to admit when your company isn’t performing at its best. By saying, “yes, we’ve made some mistakes. We’ve heard what you would like for us to do better and this how we are working towards that,” you’ll demonstrate your company’s commitment to customer service.
We presented our client with a recommendation on what an appropriate reaction would be to this particular blog post—after all, that’s what we do.
Led by an individual whose sales and marketing acumen often makes me jealous, our client took the ball and ran. The result? Check it out for yourself here:
*Fun Fact: According to Wikipedia (its always right, right?), “Contrary to popular belief, Ostriches do not bury their heads in sand. This myth likely began with Pliny the Elder (A.D. 23-79), who wrote that Ostriches ‘imagine, when they have thrust their head and neck into a bush, that the whole of their body is concealed.’”