If you get noticed for something that isn’t necessarily a positive thing … is that a good thing? The old saying “any press is good press” would argue yes, but with the revolution of social media, it can be hard to know if this still holds true in today’s digital age. The good news is that, yes, any press can still be good press, if you monitor your brand online and act quickly when bad press hits.
The best way to tackle bad press is to prepare for the worst-case scenario by learning how to deal with a crisis. The basics are to manage it, pull through it, and come out better for it on the other side. It’s never fun to have to respond to unexpected bad press with damage control, but it can be turned into good publicity or exposure if the right steps are taken.
Assess and Track Damage
First, you will have to assess the extent of the damage. Here’s a lists of some free tools that will help you monitor what’s being said about your brand online:1
- BackType Blog Comments Monitoring – This tool indexes conversations from blogs, social networks and other social media. It also has an alert function that e-mails updates whenever a search term is mentioned in a comment.
- BoardTracker – This tool searches discussion boards and forum threads for your specified keywords. You can also sign up for e-mail alerts.
- Naymz – A social network focused on reputation, personal branding and identity verification. The basic version is free. Track everything related to your company, e.g., variations of the company and product names, names of your key employees, all applicable product or service names, as well as information related to your competition and your industry. The quicker you notice any negative press, the easier it is to do damage control.
Investigate the facts internally before taking action. Remember to always take the high road. Be honest, explain what you have done to rectify any issues, how your company is resolving the complaints, etc. When faced with an issue where the bad press is true, don’t ignore or hide from it; participate in the discussion, be open and honest about how your company is working to make a change. In the event the negative content written about you is libelous or slanderous, politely request the blog, forum, news site owner and/or the parties responsible to remove or retract the statements. If you can’t get the statements removed, you may need to consult a lawyer since this type of bad press can inflict serious harm to your business.
Dissemination of Information
Dissemination of information is the third big tip for damage control. When users read or find out some adverse comments about your brand, their primal instinct is to check your website before drawing definite conclusions. You will have to be ready with information that counters the bad accusations by updating your website to include information specific to the crisis at hand – place text and images directly on your homepage addressing the issue; sometimes simply having testimonials listed front and center can do the job. The biggest step of all when it comes to crisis management, is using social media to build up positive enforcements about your company. Just as there are detractors on social sites, there are also devoted followers.
Active social media participants regularly share ideas before they end up with an opinion; brand loyalists can influence the naysayers by commenting positively within your social sites. Know that when trouble strikes, impact can be reduced if someone in your organization is a regular contributor to your social platforms, as their credibility is already established and can give voice to your company’s side of the story.2
Taking the right steps to repair your brand can and will surprisingly result in good press. It makes your company look like an all-star in the face of adversity; the ability to act fast and tactfully goes a long way. Consumers will respect you for being open and honest at a time when most would hide, and they’ll write about it in return. Even if the exposure wasn’t exactly what you had in mind, you will likely gain new loyal customers and business partners through your ability to handle a stressful situation in a professional, positive way.
*Note: If you find yourself in a crisis situation where you can’t control the bad press being written online about your business, there are companies available to act as your online reputation manager.
1 Online Reputation Management: 16 Free Tools http://blogs.sitepoint.com/2009/05/21/tools-manage-online-reputation/
2 Free Online Reputation Management Beginner’s Guide http://www.marketingpilgrim.com/2006/03/online-reputation monitoring-beginners.html