How to Survive Bad Press Like a Pro
We are living in the age of the Internet: where all types of communication and attitudes are welcome, bad news actually does travel faster than the speed of light, and everyone waits in the shadows for an opportunity to hop on a good (or bad) story. You know you’ve seen it before; the little business down some street you’ve never heard of is suddenly the talk of the entire Internet. Everyone starts ganging up on the business sharing the story via Facebook and Twitter with posts encouraging everyone to stop being a patron. Then after you’ve seen the story show up in your feed for the third time in an hour, you decide to read the story, and you realize the way the business handled a situation was cringe worthy.
Let’s be honest, in the age of Internet, sometimes you won’t be able to stop some bad press from happening. There’s always going to be the outraged man who’s water wasn’t cold enough who fumed in your Yelp reviews. And don’t be too upset with the woman who keeps tagging your business on Facebook with hate posts, because truth be told, you probably won’t be able to make her happy. If you recall when Facebook would change their layouts, you would think a violent revolution was brewing based on the angry posts on your timeline. The internet makes it easy for people to indulge in anger, but eventually it all blows over. So here are some rules for dealing with bad press, and how to do it like a pro so that you can survive it and come out stronger in the process.
Don’t Bring Fuel To The Fire Fight
One thing you should always remember about the internet: there is always a user somewhere that will “out-insult” you, and wherever you are, once you bring your best fight, that user will come out of the shadows and find you. Bad press happens. As a business owner, NEVER turn to your caps lock or profanity. The only way all caps are acceptable are when driving the point home to never reply to a customer IN ALL CAPS. Keep your cool, which leads us to our second rule.
Pick Your Battles Carefully
While you’re remaining cool, calm, and collected, still choose your battles wisely. The barrage of commenters will likely not back down, even if you are using legitimate arguments for reasons your business is being portrayed in an ugly light. Do spend time if necessary commenting on the situation, but don’t feel like you need to get into a comment battle with every individual with an opinion. Another option in these situations is to hire an outside PR agency to handle communication.
Sometimes It’s Best Not To Say Anything
No one is forcing you to say anything at all, and sometimes you may find the odds are in your favor if you’re silent anyway. Again, the users of the Internet will comment until they’re blue in the face whether or not you’re an active participant. Standing in the shadows quietly until the waters have calmed is never a bad idea.
Your Silence Is A Good Time To Listen
If you do choose silence as a strategy, this is a good time for you to listen to your customers. Don’t try to read every comment on the Internet, but do try to seek out your customers and listen to ways their experience with your business could be made better. At this step, your job is not to try and fix your bad press, or to make the press go away. Your job is to just listen.
Find Opportunities To Grow
After the bad press starts to calm down, you’ve carefully chosen which battles to engage, and you’ve spent time listening to your customers, take this as an opportunity to come on the other side of this bad press as a better business owner. Take everything you learned during your time in front of the bad press spotlight to come back as a stronger business and business owner. Be honest about what took place, how you handled the event, and lastly what you’re doing to be a better business. Your customers will appreciate your honesty, and the Internet commenters will slither back into their shadows and await their next victim.
If you have any stories, experiences you can share, feel free to leave them in the comments!