Nothing can describe the public relations nightmare that ensues when a company gets negative press. You should never underestimate the impact of negative publicity. Big giants have been felled by getting media coverage that paints them in bad light. Of course, everyone in the communication fields wishes they would stop the press before their company appears in media spaces in a negative light. The bad news (pun intended) is that it is not possible to always stop negative publicity. You can, however, learn how to handle negative press.
- Provide Comment: Always remember that in the media world, “No comment” is a comment. It actually implies an admission of guilt in some instances. If you are handling communication for an individual or company, it is best to give a comment, even if it means giving a blanket statement such as “we are getting to the bottom of things and will provide a comprehensive statement in due course…” Do not refuse to comment, unless it is very sensitive information or when you are sure you will be implicating yourself by giving a prompt comment.
- Apologise early: There is no point in going on the defence when the accusation is factual. If indeed there has been wrongdoing, apologise early and resist the temptation to point fingers and accuse other people. Promise to do better. The public is always more forgiving when you apologise and move on.
- Correct errors: If there are misrepresentations or factual errors, do not be afraid of pointing them out. Reach out to the media for a right of reply, but if they are uncooperative, feel free to use your social media channels while tagging the media house from whom you got the negative press.
Always remember that negative publicity is a wake-up call on the need to be accountable to customers and employees. After you handle the crisis, have an internal meeting to discuss how to prevent such in future.