Some folks claim that there is no such thing as negative or bad publicity, but most businesses on the receiving end of harsh news coverage or social media criticism would disagree.
The way you handle a negative story can make all the difference. Here's how to respond without fanning the flames of a negative situation.
First and foremost, make sure you temper your response. Don't hide. In most cases, a failure to react will only tend to validate a criticism, so an appropriate response is usually advisable. Yet there are exceptions. If the accusation isn't credible (a rumor or internet troll), there's no need to dignify it. In a high-stakes situation in which the facts aren't yet clear, respond by saying so, and pledge to get to the truth as quickly as possible.
Most important never overreact. It's easy to be emotional and use inflammatory or defensive language when attacked, especially if things get personal. Here is where taking the “high road” is most important.
Most legitimate websites or news sources will let you have your say in response to a negative story. Where facts or details are wrong, insist on your right to set the record straight. Don't threaten or bully; appeal instead to the journalist or blogger's sense of accuracy. No one wants to get it wrong.
Use facts and figures and cite third party sources. A convincing response is usually one that invokes objective facts or statistics. When possible, quote third parties. Past recognition, company ratings and recommendations, even satisfied customers, will help you state your case.
When appropriate, apologize. If your company has made an error, offer a prompt and sincere apology. Avoid weasel words such as, "We're sorry if anyone was offended." If this is the case make sure you learn from the experience and take responsibility, and more importantly, take steps to fix the situation or make amends.
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