As long as you're in the public eye, you will face an issue that requires damage control at one point or another. Your organisation should have a policy that addresses PR disasters.
The current state of instant digital communication means that bad publicity can spread so fast that a contingency plan may be rendered useless.
The pointers highlighted below will offer insights on how to handle unfortunate events that may tarnish the reputation of your business.
Ideally, you're not supposed to start crafting crisis management plans when something terrible happens. Take a proactive approach by preempting incidences of bad PR and how to handle them effectively.
"Take a proactive approach by preempting incidences of bad PR and how to handle them..."
Draw up a guide specifying the operating procedures in case of a damaging event. You can seek some legal advice on this matter for procedural compliance.
This guide will help your business act promptly and within the law during PR 'firefighting' exercises.
If you face unwarranted negative publicity, respond with accurate details that can be authenticated. If your business is being highlighted unfairly in the press, you can issue a firm but polite statement providing all the provable facts.
Credible media outlets don't like to be in the wrong, so they are likely to clarify the efficacy of a story based on new details.
"Credible media outlets don't like to be in the wrong..."
If your business is negatively publicized, a barrage of complaints and comments are expected to follow. It is essential to step in and clear the air before letting the bad news spread extensively. Engage the detractors by clearing the air and offer to fix any problems if possible.
But ensure that you are engaging the right people. Avoid communicating with trolls or people who are hell-bent on spreading malice.
"Avoid communicating with trolls or people who are hell-bent on spreading malice."
Try and solve any problems just like you would with a walk-in customer. Positive engagement can go a long way in restoring your business's reputation.
Weigh the authority of your critics, and if they don't wield any influence, it is advisable to avoid any response or interaction. Always trying to have the last word starts a race to the bottom. Instead, have the credibility of your enterprise at heart when considering any official engagement.
"Always trying to have the last word starts a race to the bottom."
It is vital to gather as much data as possible from negative publicity. Whether the claims are true or false, keep collecting feedback. If the overall sentiment is that you need to change a particular aspect of your business processes, you may have to consider it in the future.
Sometimes the negative response from the public is a proverbial referendum on whether your product is good or not. See the situation as an opportunity to fix any negative experiences and grow stronger.
"Sometimes the negative response from the public is a proverbial referendum on whether your product is good or not."
Always track positive and negative reviews for a better overall perspective.
The best and most effective way of surviving a public relations ordeal is to improve and outshine the competition. You have to find a way of reinventing your business and offering the best product you can. It's hard to find fault in a product that provides maximum satisfaction.
Offer your customers such a great product that they forget about any misgivings of the past.
"Offer your customers such a great product that they forget about any misgivings of the past."
After surviving a spate of negative publicity, there is an excellent opportunity to reposition your brand as a solution. Most disgruntled customers are still willing to stick with your business if you show an apparent willingness to resolve their complaints. Take some time to find out where you need improvement. Your business can recover with each customer whose problem is solved.
"Your business can recover with each customer whose problem is solved."