No one ever quite predicted bad news (Not 100% for sure, at least) and even worse, no one knew how hard bad news would hit them until it actually happened to them. The manner in which bad news may hit you has doubled over the years. In fact, it feels pretty safe to say tripled. What with the gazillion social media platforms, if you're in the limelight you just don't know the day, hour or minute at which the axe shall fall on you. It could be in form of a text, tweet, google alert or even from word of mouth. Heck, don't be surprised if an owl dropped a letter on your doorstep. (This is the 21st century. Anything is possible) On a larger and more lethal scale, an irate client could be criticizing your brand or company. In public or online.
You're familiar with the line "No publicity is bad publicity“ yes? Well try to tell that to a corporate company like Safaricom. More often than not bad publicity is simply that. Bad Publicity. So when this kind of doom befalls you as a brand, or a company, how do you react without fanning the flames that are threatening to go out of hand, if you're lucky enough and they already aren't?
1.) Weigh Your Response:
Slithering off and curling under a rock is not the way to go. Especially if you have a genuine side of the story. Failure to react will be misconstrued and render the allegations true therefore an appropriate response is advised. It doesn't matter how long you hide for, the public will always demand for an answer so you might as well get it over and done with. However, if the allegations are just a rumor with no evidence to back anything up or a mere Internet troll, you may ignore it. Remember, not everything deserves your attention (response).
2.) Don't Overreact:
Publicly approaching the situation with rage and fury will only make it effervesce some more. Nobody is telling you to bottle up your feelings. No. If according to you it's necessary, break stuff if you have to. Throw a chair over the balcony (but don't hurt anyone lest you get out of a frying pan into an equally hot pan or worse). Scream into a pillow. Let it all out however way you can. When you face the public or address the public through a press release or a five paragraph TV long Facebook post, let it reflect your calm demeanor and composure. Nothing screams guilty like a defensive and enraged person. In the quest to clear your name/brand you might end up leaving more questions.
3.) Request For Ample Time:
Unless it's gutter press or a journalist that's just out to get you, a rational media institution/person will give you enough time to collect yourself before commenting, if only you request for it. Don't bully. Don't demand. Don't threaten. Try reasoning. Remember, this one time or more to come, your public image depends on what this person chooses to relay to the world.
4.) Use Facts And Figures And Site 3rd Party Sources:
During this dark time, you could use all the credibility you can get. (I was going to add "afford" but for obvious reasons I'd rather didn't) Remember that client, that friend, etc, that always gave you the impression that they were your "ride-or-dies?“ Well here is when these relations are tested. This is your chance to play that card like a fiddle. Let them defend you. Quote previous recommendations and company ratings if you have to. Actually, you have to so do it.
5.) If Appropriate, Apologize:
Sometimes we could genuinely be on the wrong. If you as a brand or your company really did err, a heartfelt apology would go a long way. Give one and offer a way to make it up to whoever it is you wronged. And remember, if it has the word "if" in it, it's not sincere.
6.) Improve Your Quality Of Services Or Products:
When you apologised you offered a way to make it up to the wronged party. Therefore as the dust settles, live up to this honor. And once the storm is clear, go out of your way and step up in form of reasonable incentives, depending on what industry you're in. Mending your reputation might cost you an extra coin or two.
7.) Could This Be An Opportunity?
When it's all said and done, an event like this could be a blessing in disguise. It could be the chance you get to learn what works and what doesn't work for your existing and potential clients. Few years from now you could have this debarco to thank for your massive success. So whilst you get through it, learn from it as well.