As a business owner, it can be really exciting to have a customer tell you, “Hey, I just read an article about your company in the paper this morning!” You will probably stop what you are doing, look up the article, and, unfortunately sometimes be aghast at how your company was portrayed in a negative light.
To make matters worse, you know that your loyal customer is not the only person who read the story. Others, some of whom have never done business with you before, probably read it as well, and unless you take action, they may never set foot in your store.
If this situation happens to you, please know that you are not the first business owner to be slammed in the press, and you will not be the last. You will get past this situation, and you can rise above it and be better than ever—but you have to be proactive and organized in your approach.
With all of this in mind, the following tips can help you weather negative press about your company:
Don’t Run and Hide
It is understandable that reading a negative story about your company may make you want to stick your head in the sand (or maybe head to Vegas) until it all blows over. As much as you can, resist these urges and instead focus on ways to get some good stories about your company in the public eye. If you are working with a public relations firm, it can help you through a PR crisis like this one. If you don’t have a PR firm, no worries—you can generate your own positive buzz by posting on social media about any philanthropic work you have done or will do, how you give back to the community and uplifting stories about your company, employees and customers.
Turn the Negative Into a Positive
Another effective way to handle negative press is to take matters into your own hands to educate your customers about the truth—all in a positive and upbeat way. Once when Walmart was mentioned unfavorably in an article in The New York Times, the retail company posted an edited version of the article on its blog with the inaccuracies pointed out in a humorous way. Another company that has taken a similar approach is Amway; after being accused of being a scam, the company posted a blog explaining how the direct sales model actually works, pointing out that Amway is not a pyramid scheme.
In both of these cases, the companies did a great job of correcting false information and using facts to explain the truth. They didn’t fire back with negative statements that slammed their critics; they used these situations as an opportunity to educate people about their companies.
Remain Calm and Delete, Delete, Delete
Sometimes negative press can be the result of trolls on the internet who get their kicks stating lies about companies. If one of these untruths ends up being included in a story about your business, try to stay as calm and collected as you can rather than hunting down the nasty people on social media. If you find negative and untrue posts on your company social media pages, you can certainly delete and block as needed, but do not engage them in an argument—it will only fuel their troll fire and inspire them to continue to spew negative posts about your company.
You, Will, Get Through This
While reading any negative stories about your company can feel like a slap in the face, it will not be the end of the world. By remaining as level headed as you can and using these experiences as an opportunity to spread the great work that you do, as well as educate people about the truth about your company, you may find yourself with a nice boost in business.