In last week’s post; “Public Relations: Expectations VS Reality” I addressed a number of misconceptions relating to public relations and publicity. One of the points highlighted was All Publicity is Good Publicity. This week, as the headline says, I am discussing bad publicity. There are some people who would disagree with me but I DO NOT BELIEVE that ALL PUBLICITY IS GOOD PUBLICITY! Bad Publicity absolutely, positively, does exist.
Let’s dive in. I dropped three names last week and I am sharing them again; Bill Cosby, Tiger Woods and Lance Armstrong. Can anyone highlight any points where the bad publicity each received assisted in making their brands stronger? I’ll say this again, negative publicity can really hurt a brand instead of helping it. I am admitting here as I did in last week’s blog post that there are instances where negative situations were spun into positives. Be mindful though, the spinning of negative stories into positive ones does not happen overnight.
A number of issues have led to bad publicity and negative public perception. Negative reactions are seldom favoured. In the case of me and my role as a publicist I like to think of the following:
The old adage “Prevention is better than cure” is applicable here. One of the best ways to handle bad publicity is by not allowing it to happen at all.
Some type of analysis of your brand can be done to determine the aspects of your brand that is usually scrutinized. Then take note of those aspects and brainstorm ideas that can add to your cautiousness.
For example A number of persons in your industry may be labeled as drug users and you have heard some names. In this instance, avoidance may be better than association.
We can call it my PR morning after *laughs.* In our world the more appropriate reference would be the contingency plan. Be prepared, think about safety but in the case of a slip-up or error think about how it can be fixed prior to it potentially occurring. As a PR professional, I am in charge of cleaning up the mess.
Taking into account what may happen, the possible outcomes, reactions and the best reaction and approaches from a PR standpoint are important.
Time is of the essence! Address the problem as quickly and effectively as possible. There are occurrences when the rumbling begins slowly before things begin crumbling. Dealing with the situation in a timely manner gives the opportunity to control the flow of information before things get too complicated. The story can be controlled.
Appoint A Spokesperson
Appoint a go-to person who is knowledgeable and prepared to talk and listen to press etc.
Craft Key Messages
Having key messages in place to share with the media is paramount in cases of crisis. All members of the client’s team should also receive and understand all the messages shared.
Just don’t lie! Owning up to your bad publicity when it is well deserved is best! A genuine apology can go a long way and can be issued via various platforms. Public trust is important.
The statement “No comment” does not work for every situation. Sometimes, the statement may create the perception that the client may be hiding valuable information.
When To Respond
Do not engage in tit for tat and stay away from social media wars. Bad press circulates virtually also and if you are dealing with bad publicity the internet can be a tough place.
Where a resolution is relevant offer one. This requires an understanding of the issues at hand and may only make sense in certain instances. More than an apology is needed at times.
There may be opportunities. Pay attention!
Sometimes a meme, comical tweet or message can lighten the load. This approach can turn a bad situation around. *laughs* I’ve seen memes save face on a number of occasions.
Comeback VS Setback
New cycles are not forever, they have a life which is short (mostly.) Figure out your strength and find ways to share the good news. There is always an opportunity to leave a memorable imprint in the minds of the public.
Hopefully, these points can help you prepare and deal with bad publicity. If I missed any points be sure to let me know!
Also, if you require assistance in figuring out your PR, feel free to drop me a line.
Happy reading until next time.