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How to handle bad publicity about your business

Bad publicity can appear when you least expect it, you can never be fully sure of the scope it will have or the damage to your business’s reputation it could do.

Making sure that you know how to deal with bad publicity when it does come around will be extremely beneficial to your business through its lifetime. To help you handle any bad publicity, we’ve put together this short guide.

How to handle bad publicity about your business

Have a team in place before you need it

The last thing you want is to not have a PR team in place as you go through your first major PR crisis, and have that crisis be the thing that spurs you to create a team. There’s a very significant chance that you may have already caused irreparable damage to your brand’s reputation as far as your potential customers are concerned by the time the team is in place.

Appointing a team after a crisis will help in future, but the poor handling of the initial crisis means it may takes months for your reputation to recover to previous levels, if at all.

Having this level of foresight and making sure you’re ready and able to protect your business’s reputation will benefit you by both minimising brand damage in the eyes of the customers, and helping your staff feel assured that you’re looking out for how they’re perceived as much as you are for yourself and your business.

Know that something will happen eventually

In an ideal world, no PR crisis would ever befall your business. Unfortunately, it’s not easy to predict and something may happen at some point. You should endeavour to be prepared as much as possible.

On the other hand, preparing for what you consider a likely PR issue doesn’t negate the potential for something else to happen. The PR crisis that unfolds might be one that you haven’t been anticipating.

While you may not know exactly what the crisis that unfolds will be, this should demonstrate why having a team of professionals on hand before you need them is so important: you may not know exactly what will happen, but their PR experience can help minimise any potential damage that could have resulted.

Prepare an official statement as soon as possible

When it comes to handling a PR crisis, you should make sure to jump in straight away and mitigate as much of the damage as you can. Don’t do nothing and hope that it’ll all die down eventually. Letting the media create the narrative for you can cause the crisis to become far worse than it would have been if you reacted quickly as soon as you were aware.

Essentially, if you know something that’s being circulated about your business is either impossible in some way, or extremely exaggerated to garner more public outrage, provide as many avenues to disprove their account as possible. Reach out to news organisations and send your message out through social media to provide your own account. The more evidence you can provide, the better it will be for your business. It could be something as simple as CCTV footage or a short video of your manufacturing process. All that matters is that your account can be deemed as the professional and factual one.

The “as soon as possible” approach is also why social media is so useful to businesses when it comes to interacting with their customers. Customers can be very vocal on social media, and the nature of social media means that one complaint could pick up a great deal of traction if you don’t respond quickly and deal with the issue.

Learn from the event and incorporate the lessons into your brand

Essentially, you will need to show to your customer base that you’re better than you were before the crisis; you’ve acknowledged the problem, you’ve fixed or adapted to the problem, and you’ve emerged as a better business for it.  The main aim is to restore public confidence in you as a business. Why should a customer stay with you after a problem arises when there’s a competitor who could provide a similar service?

Say the crisis emerged from an unexpected allergic reaction a customer had to your product. One way to demonstrate that you’re committed to improving your business is by relaying to your customer base that you’ve changed your manufacturing process, or you’re using different ingredients and components to make sure your products are as safe as possible for all who use them. Transparency is one of the best tools you have as a business to regain and retain customer loyalty.

How FSB’s PR/Crisis Management can help

When a PR crisis hits you for the first time, you may feel nervous and unsure about how to handle the potential damage. To help make life easier for you when the unexpected happens, FSB’s PR/Crisis Management service provides you with information and guidance from a PR expert.

With our expert PR/Crisis Management services, we can help you to protect your business if something goes wrong. The service, which we offer to all our FSB members, includes:

  • Advise on protocols following a crisis
  • Preparing, drafting and issuing a press release
  • Preparing PR communications
  • Advise on how to mitigate negative publicity

To find out more about this service and how we can help you, take a look at our PR/Crisis Management page, or get in touch with a member of our team.

FSB PR/Crisis Management Helpline from FSB

FSB PR / Crisis Management advice service is here to make your life easier with important information and guidance for a public relations expert to assist you in handling a crisis through RMS PR, a specialist PR agency.

Find out more