Remember that CEO who had to resign after kicking his dog in the elevator? Or the one who had to resign after commenting that his clothes were only meant for certain body types?
Or…? In fact, there have been so many public relations nightmares in the past few years that it’s hard to give it a name. Most often, it’s the “poor choices” of a manager or employee, but the publicity can also stem from an unhappy customer, or even a troll spinning fake news. You can fight back, but you’ll need a stellar reputation as a solid foundation. Coming in at #3 is Bad Behaviour, either from your company or attacking your company.
- Control Your Brand – If any of your employees, management included, are identifiable on their off hours, by a uniform, fleet vehicle, or public recognition, make sure you have policies in place to protect your brand. That expensively wrapped car is great advertising until it cuts someone off in traffic, causes an accident, or parks over the line marking the stall. If you want your brand volunteering in the community or such, be sure that you have control of the situation and that employees know that they are still “at work” and all rules of behaviour apply.
- Deal with Unhappy Customers – A friend of mine is the ultimate consumer advocate. Whether it’s been her personally or something she’s witnessed, bad service or a defective product is not tolerated. I’d estimate she contacts somebody’s manager about once a week. When the problem is taken seriously and quickly resolved, she remains loyal and promotes the brand. If not, everyone in her very wide social media circle hears about the unacceptable occurrence and response. My friend is one of an increasing number of consumers who demand excellence. With obvious abuse as the only exception, do whatever it takes to keep your customers happy.
- Keep “Social” Media Professional – Social media has such a casual and spur of the moment feel to it that it’s sometimes hard to remember that your posts can have very negative consequences. Readers are unlikely to have the full context leading up to your comment; impetuous remarks can be made without the poster understanding the whole story; and just about any opinion will be construed by someone as inappropriate. Corporate social media accounts are potential explosives that can work for or against you. Posts need to be planned, carefully considered, and reconsidered, to ensure they are purposeful and will land with positive benefit to your company.
- Don’t Overreact – Whether it’s a bad review or an outright lie, be careful not to overreact to a negative narrative. Consult a professional (like us!) before you do anything. Getting into a war of words on the internet will work against you.