Sales & Marketing

How to turn bad press about your business into something good

5 min read

18 June 2019

You're chugging happily along, building your business, and then it happens. Someone publishes a derisive article or a scathing review, makes an insulting comment or a damaging statement about your business for the world to see…and worse, for your customers and target market to see.

“Bad press will destroy my business”, you might think. But, first things first, you’re probably going a bit overboard with that belief. And secondly, you can turn this around to be a good and profitable thing for your business.

Here’s how you can show the naysayer, as well as everyone else who’s watching, what you’re really made of…and create some positive exposure for your business in the process:

Address inaccuracies with publishers

If an article or other piece has been published that puts forth errors or untruths, contact the journalist or editor of the newspaper or publication. Instead of expressing anger, calmly list the problems and ask for a retraction or correction to be printed.

The editor may even invite you to write a response to the erroneous piece. If the piece is online, ask them to delete the part that is not true.

This recently happened to a client of mine and I asked the national newspaper to remove the reference to my client [they had nothing to do with the story involved].

Avoid vengeance

There’s no doubt that when you first read a negative comment, your temper is going to flare, or any number of other emotions will run high. You’ll want to retaliate, defend yourself and your business…lash out.

This is the worst thing you can do. It will substantiate that negative comment, possibly adding more credibility to their comment. React in this way, and your business will lose.

Express gratitude

Thank the contributor for their insight. Admit that maybe you hadn’t looked at it that way, or that there was an unfortunate oversight. Say whatever you see as appropriate to diffuse the situation before you attempt to correct it.

Don’t make excuses

Everyone is expecting you to justify what happened (even if nothing did). Instead, surprise them and shake things up by owning it or completely circumventing those excuses that everyone is anticipating.

Present your plan for solving the problem

Your target customers want to know that you’re the type of business owner who listens, and who are committed to solving the problems that plague them. Demonstrate that you genuinely care by telling the dissatisfied person how you’re going to resolve the issue.

If they have a legitimate complaint, tell them how you’re going to adjust your processes. If you believe that your brand isn’t for them, then tactfully explain how you’re going to help them find a better option. You know your business and your audience better than anyone.

Do the best you can, with the tools and knowledge you have, to establish your brand as one that is concerned and motivated to solve problems.

Ask Satisfied Customers to Post Testimonials and Reviews. One sure-fire way to bury bad press is to smother it with good press.

Contact your best customers and ask if they’d be willing to talk about their experiences with your business. Suggest places/outlets where they can do so and help them with your branded language if necessary.

Plus, ramp up your contacts and relations with media outlets, in order to have more constructive pieces published about you and your brand.

Move on

If, after a few attempts to diffuse a situation, you’re getting nowhere, move on.

A long, drawn-out argument can only end badly for your business’s reputation, and most often, you’ll be seen as the ‘bigger person’ for ending it and moving on with more positive exposure projects.

Bad press, including reviews, testimonials, and comments will sting at first. Your business is your baby, and just like a furious parent, you’ll want to hit back. Instead, take the high road.

See the diamond buried beneath all that rubbish. Turn it into something positive and demonstrate just how respectable and resilient your business is. The people who matter the most to the success of your company will take notice…and take action.