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Times have changed. Earlier if you were not happy with a product, you would tell your family and friends about it. But today, if someone is not happy with your product/services, he is likely to tweet about on Twitter or write a bad review through other social media channels. As a business owner you should be prepared to handle bad publicity. There are many who say that at times, bad publicity is better than no publicity for startups. However, there are times when the negativity and bad publicity can backfire, causing loss to your business. Remember, reputation has to be earned and cannot be bought. A good reputation is a sure sign of success whereas a bad one can have a devastating effect on your business. We have put together a list of how to handle bad coverage.

1.Find the source of the problem – In order to deal with bad publicity, you should first try to confront the source. “Go to the source and challenge the fact that what they are spreading isn’t true,” says Mark Grimm, president of Mark Grimm Communications, a public relations company in Albany. He also suggests that it would be wise to apologize and state something positive that answers the negative publicity.

2.Try to amend the problem – If there is a genuine problem, instead of becoming defensive try to make amendments. If you go above and beyond to fix the problem, your customers will realize that you not only value them but also care for them. Lea Richards, owner of Pig of the Month BBQ, a nationwide mail order barbeque company, offered a full refund and also sent a new package of the BBQ after a customer tweeted a complaint on Twitter about receiving damaged goods.

3.Do not ignore any bad coverage – There are times when you consider a situation is no big deal and that it will not affect the reputation of your company. However, that is not a good idea at all. If there is no fault on your end, then you should not be afraid to counteract inaccuracies. If a customer has tweeted or bad-mouthed your company through any of the social media channels, do not hesitate to respond with your version of the story.

4.Admit your mistakes – If the bad publicity is due to the mistakes you made, do not hesitate or feel embarrassed to apologize. You should find ways to rectify the problem and the customers would start trusting your firm. That way they understand that if there is ever [another] problem, it won’t be a problem to them,” Lea Richards says.

5.Engage a PR firm – If the negative publicity is beyond repair, then it would be wise to ask a public relations firm to help resolve your issues. The PR firm would appoint someone who can stay calm under pressure and also answer awkward questions.

6.Give a press release – If the disaster is a major one, you can ask your Public Relations officer to prepare a press statement. They should highlight the positive angles of your firm as well as the mistake. This is an important way to persuade the press to present your firm in a better light.

7.Online newsletter on your website/blog – It is mandatory that your business should have a website to establish your online presence. If there is a true disaster, you can have a write up about the issue either on your website or blog. Openly talk about your faults and thereby apologizing, or give your side of the story in case of false accusations which will help put an end to an unwanted speculation.

Whether it is negative publicity online or a word-of-mouth, you should know how to tackle such problems. What would you do if you were faced with bad publicity?

Flickr image by NASA Goddard Photo and Video

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