Social Media Blog

6 steps to implement when you or your brand experience bad PR

Posted by Rita Khodeir on 2 Mar 2017

Co-authored by Emily Lucas

Once upon a time, social media was a simple tool used to catch up with old high school friends, connect with distant relatives or boast about your clever kids. Nowadays social media platforms are much more than that. Social media is one the most popular and effective ways (if done right) that businesses can market to their online customers. A by-product of this however, is the ability for customers to voice their dissatisfaction instantaneously. 

If you decide to play in the social media arena, it is essential that your business knows how to handle complaints and bad PR effectively so as to avoid a #socialmediafail. Here’s what we suggest:

1.    Get in contact instantly!

Don’t sit on a bad review hoping it will go away. It won’t! Silence will only create an opportunity for further criticism. Responding to the post immediately shows the customer (and other bystanders) that their feedback is important to you and that their complaint has been heard.  

2.    Take a two-pronged approach

As discussed, time is of the essence to you and your brand but how you respond to the comment is just as important. Due to the comment being displayed publicly, it is essential that you also respond to the criticism publicly too. This shows the entire audience of the thread that your brand is committed to getting to the bottom of issues that arise. We also suggest that you contact the user directly via a private message. Here you can request the customer’s personal details such as mobile number, email address or address which can be used to help remedy the situation e.g. provide a voucher to your store, action a refund, etc. 

3.    Don’t delete!

Time and time again we see rant posts commencing with “So I posted this a few days ago but you deleted my post.” Deleting bad feedback or criticism of you or your brand escalates an already inflamed situation! Posts that start off this way also attract more attention from onlookers as a sense of mystery regarding the deleted post ensues. Removing negative comments online is also quite literally the virtual way of sweeping things under the carpet. This shows your online audience that you or your brand is not concerned with the opinions of valued customers.

4.    Apologise – don’t suck up!

Be careful with an apology – as it could do more harm than good. Overboard apologies can appear insincere. Also, avoid the line “We apologise BUT” – these apologies could aggravate the situation as it may come across defensive and dismissive. Keep your apology short and sincere – one sentence max! Then focus the rest of your response on ways you intend to address the situation. 

5.    Thank your critic

Ending your response with a thank you demonstrates to your online following that your brand appreciates constructive feedback.  Further, a thank you is a nice way to end the public conversation about this issue - extended communications should be done privately. Just remember you don’t need to be pen pals or have a keyboard battle with the critic.

6.    In some cases, it’s ok to push back!

Just remember the customer isn’t always right and if a comment is made that is inappropriate or offensive to your staff, do not be afraid to call the critic out on it. This shows that as a brand you do not tolerate discriminatory or offensive language or behaviour and that you are prepared to stand by your staff if appropriate. 

Want more? Check out some of our favourite responses to bad PR below: 

Handled bad PR like a pro? Hit us up on twitter @Rita_Khodeir and @almost_lawyer and let us know what went down: