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Negative Publicity: How Do You Prevent and Deal With It?

Sometimes, it’s unexpected – one social media post or review can draw unwanted attention and affect the conversation surrounding your brand.

An unexpected backlash can stir up emotions within your team. While a coordinated and timely response is essential, think again before immediately drafting the first reply that comes to mind. Too quick and you may miss out on the nuances of the issue; too slow and you lose the opportunity to tell your story and manage the narrative.

When your brand is involved in a negative tweet or comment, here’s how to deal with it:

Keep all departments in the loop.

Remember, everyone in the company will be seen as a spokesperson – not just your social media team. Inform them of what is happening and ask them not to post anything on social media – even on their personal accounts – about the issue until the company comes up with an official response.

Battle the knee-jerk response.

It’s important to be sensitive to the situation. While you may be tempted to immediately respond, don’t. Consult with the appropriate team members before issuing any response, and focus on what you can control.

Be prepared to acknowledge the situation.

If the press picks up the story, be prepared to issue a holding statement acknowledging the situation. This is not an admission of guilt or fault; this shows that your brand takes the issue seriously and is responsible about it. It also allows your brand to demonstrate transparency and empathy, and showcases your commitment to resolve the issue through a thorough investigation.

Monitor all conversations about your brand.

Conduct social listening and monitor on-ground sentiment on what the public is saying about your business – which can help you address specific concerns in the near future.

How to avoid negative publicity:

Be proactive with your PR efforts.

Don’t wait before a crisis strikes. Take control of your publicity early on by connecting with your community, share more about your products and services, talk about your company values and what you’re doing for social good. A loyal customer base can act as your ambassadors and further help spread the word.

Prepare for all possible scenarios.

It’s important to prepare in advance for all possible scenarios that can come up. Consult your crisis communications team and formulate an internal communications procedure to pre-empt problems that can arise such as product or supplier issues. This team will help you navigate through all kinds of possible crises from your line of work, such as knowing the kind of statement you need to release in the event of a social media backlash, as well as briefing your stakeholders in advance.

Study how other companies have averted their own issues.

Part of staying prepared is by studying how others have done in the past. Look into successful PR efforts; what worked for one brand and what didn’t work for another, and see what you can apply to your own company.

Set an example to your team.

Be thoughtful of any gender or racial stereotypes your campaigns may be perpetuating. Better yet, genuinely advocate for diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace by promoting diversity in teams. Highlight to your teams the appropriate standards you expect them to adhere to in and out of the workplace, and follow through with clear, day-to-day actions.

Need PR help to deal with negative publicity?

Be prepared to deal with all kinds of publicity situations with a PR team that can strengthen your reputation and help you navigate through tricky issues. Trust your brand’s crisis with a reliable and savvy team of experienced PR practitioners that can help protect your brand’s reputation, monitor all conversations, and make your brand values resonate above it all.

Blue Totem Communications’ team of specialists proudly combines experience and know-how in effective and empathetic messaging that resonates with audiences. Our agency has also formed relationships with the most respected media partners across Singapore, Malaysia and Southeast Asia, helping brands foster trust and authenticity with their audiences.

Get in touch with us at today.


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