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Bad Press: From a PR viewpoint, It’s not all bad

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Bad press … is there such a thing? For your clients, the answer is a resounding yes. It’s the two words that trigger their nightmares. The PR world, on the other hand, looks at bad press from a different perspective. PR is all about brand recognition. When a company is first starting out, any sort of press involving the company’s name is good, even if there is a slight controversy around it. However, when there is a well-established brand that is struck with controversy, they may see sales suffer.

In what instances can bad press actually be good for your brand? It depends upon the PR focus. Take a scandal involving the owner for example. It could promote more awareness of the brand. Everyone loves a good story and controversy piques a consumer’s interest to learn more.

In other situations, bad press can negatively impact your business, especially when it has to do with the quality of the product. Since PR is based around reputation, if something is leaked that is unfavorable toward the company or product, this could lead to problems in sales. For example if there’s defective merchandise or goods and services that cause people harm, the company could see lower profits.

What to do in cases of bad press

Of course nobody wants to receive bad press, but how you handle the negativity speaks volumes about your brand. Remember that it can happen no matter how well your business is doing or how many precautions you take. Here are some tips for handling the bad press that does affect your bottom line.

Create a damage control plan. Having a plan in place helps you move beyond bad press in a timely manner. You need a quick response and it needs to be well prepared to get out in front of any negative PR. It’s easier and more effective to work off of a pre-planned strategy than to make rash decisions that could turn your bad press into a media crisis.

Be transparent. The tone you take with the media matters. Address the issue head on and tell consumers the company is doing everything they can to remedy the situation. In addition to being forthcoming, own your mistake.  Admit fault if applicable and express open and honest acknowledgement instead of a defensive rebuttal. An additional approach you can take is to offer insight on what you’ve learned from the mistake or reveal ways the company plans to make future improvements. 

Demonstrate your company culture is stronger than ever. As you take responsibility for the situation that’s occurred, there’s never been a better time to showcase your company’s strengths. Highlight the culture and leadership. If your brand prides itself on offering great customer service for example, make it part of your focus. When complaints come in, the people in this department are the ones on the front lines experiencing bad press firsthand. At the same time, employees should be practicing company core values in the things that they say and the decisions they make. You want everyone on the same page when it comes to moving ahead of bad press.

Hire a PR expert. Depending upon the size of your company, you might not have a dedicated PR department or communications representative. Some bad press is best left to the professionals if you don’t have an experienced spokesperson on your team. If there’s room within your budget, hiring an outsider to be the voice of your brand is a smart decision. A dedicated PR person is trained in handling media scrutiny and knows how to do so calm and collected. This individual can also help you further your PR strategy to garner positive press and good relationships with the media.

A final piece of advice is not to wait for bad press to happen to implement a PR strategy. You don’t want your brand’s introduction to the media to start off on the wrong foot. Build great relationships from the beginning and be proactive in generating good press for your brand. Let the good outweigh the bad and continue to monitor the type of press you’re receiving.

About Kristen Wessel

kristenw@thebusinesswomanmedia.com'

Kristen Wessel is the VP of Public Relations and Digital Media at ChicExecs. As a former Emmy-Award Winning News Anchor with over 10 years of experience in the news industry, Kristen prides herself on being able to tell great stories and build lasting relationships with the media. Her insider knowledge gives clients and readers a better understanding of how the media works. At ChicExecs, Kristen has secured meaningful media placements for clients and goes above and beyond to help promote and maintain their brands.

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