5 Tips for When Publicity Hands You Lemons

There’s a myth still circulating that there’s no such thing as bad publicity.

Many hang on to the assumption that as long as people are talking about you, no matter what is being said, it’s great. Amazing. Tremendous. Yet, history shows often that isn’t the case, as recalled by the movie “Deepwater Horizon” about the BP oil spill.

When small businesses with a quality product receive negative comments, whether in the news or on Yelp, Travel Advisor and other social media sites, it’s time for owners to pay attention. And it’s time to act quickly and decisively.

There are lessons to be learned from management at large corporations who saved their brands in a crisis. Possibly the most remembered case study is the response from Johnson & Johnson when seven people died after taking poisoned Tylenol capsules. The company pulled all merchandise off the shelves, verified safety and put consumers ahead of short-term profits. Media portrayed J&J in an overall positive light because of genuine efforts to resolve the problem, which ultimately helped the brand to recover.

Here are five strategies for squeezing publicity lemons into lemonade:

  1. Take responsibility. And do so immediately. When necessary, apologize. With sincerity. If your apology is effective, the matter
    will be forgiven and forgotten as busy people move on.
  2. Provide a remedy. Set new standards. Pull the product. Do what it takes to secure your customers’ trust.
  3. Hold firm to your core values. While media might initially batter your company, a quality brand and service will prevail over time.
  4. Protect the company’s reputation. Sometimes it’s better to settle rather than drag an incident out in court.
  5. Launch a thoughtful communications program with public relations professionals who have the experience to restore a tarnished image.

Dealt with properly, negative media has a short life. Consistency, positive performance and communication will endure.

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