There are a wide variety of public relations disasters, from the mildly embarrassing to the downright inappropriate. No matter what you’re PR problems you’re facing, the following quick fixes can help you avoid a PR nightmare and get your business back on track.
1. Quickly acknowledge your mistake
In the age of the internet, nothing ever truly goes away: tweets can be screenshotted before they are deleted, videos can be continually reposted, and one bad review can quickly turn into 100. Because of this, it is extremely important that you acknowledge that a mistake was made as soon as possible.
“A day is too long,” says Jennifer Berson, president of Jeneration PR. “Even if you don’t have all the information you need, at a minimum you should be telling people that you are aware of the issue and will provide more information the following day.”
2. Issue an apology
“The really important thing to recognize about apologies is that they are a very smart thing to issue,” says Lynn Gaertner-Johnston, founder and business-writing specialist at Syntax Training. “In order for the client or perspective customer to get over the bad feelings, we have to issue the apology. It helps the other person release their anger about it.”
Apologies should frequently include and repeat words such as “apologize”, “regret”, and “sorry” in order to appear more sincere. A public apology doesn’t necessarily have to take the form of a full press conference; for small infractions, a heartfelt letter, tweet, or statement on a website may suffice.
3. Make it right
If a product is faulty, recall it. If customers had a bad experience, offer them coupons or exclusive experiences. Doing what you can to make things right can often increase the public’s perception and respect for your company following a PR disaster.
4. Counter with a positive campaign
A PR nightmare doesn’t have the mean the end of your company. Instead, focus on creating a positive campaign to change people’s perceptions of your organization. “Go on a positive press campaign,” says Melissa Cassera, publicity expert at Cassera Communications. “Even though negative things about your company will stay online forever, you can push them down to Page Three or Four on Google, and no one goes to those pages anyway.”
Dealing with a PR disaster doesn’t have to be the end of the world. By responding quickly, apologizing, doing what you can to make it right, and positively altering people’s opinions, your company can survive – and thrive – after a PR disaster.