Negative Online PR – How to limit the damage caused to your brand

Category: Advertising in Africa

Date: February 15, 2011


(Image courtesy of Intersection Consulting)

Online PR is interactive, and thus allows companies and organizations to disseminate information without relying solely on mainstream publications and communicate directly with the public and customers. It is a very effective method of sharing information and getting feedback but just like in the real world, your organization might come under attack with negative criticism through bloggers, on social media platforms or even on the company website. This has the potential to dangerously escalate and even make people loose trust in the organization. Worse still, bring down the entire company.

How do you handle such situations when they arise? How do you ensure your clients remain satisfied and continue to trust you and your products? How does one contain the overall damage that such negative publicity? Here are the four main things that should be really important and ALWAYS be taken into consideration during interactive PR:

  1. Be swift: Find out what’s being said: Be on alert and use the many easily available social media monitoring tools to track what people are saying about your brand or your organization. Always try to give a fast and appropriate reaction to the negative publicity. A stitch in time…as goes the famous saying, this may help to prevent the spread and thus avoid evolution of the rumuor to a much larger issue that can not be easily handled.
  2. Never go on the attack: As much as a fast response helps to quickly put the issue under control, avoid any temptation to just get in the middle on things and counter the criticism too hard. Take a moment to compose the most appropriate feedback then respond to the complainant.
  3. Do not get personal: Focus on the main issue and avoid getting drawn into an exchange on words the person who made the comment. Make sure the issue is addressed and the negative publicity in handled professionally as this gives the organization more credibility through the objectivity portrayed.
  4. Be realistic: Online PR is about giving the brand a human touch for interacting with people, keeping this in mind, its only human to accept criticism when its deserved. One does not always have to be on the defensive but can accept the shortcomings and involve the complainants in generating possible solutions to avoid future misunderstandings.

These are the guidelines for engaging with unexpected comments and reviews, but most of the major work will involve major intuition and people skills. It is more advisable to involve an online PR agency in executing an effective interactive strategy thus ensuring such negative issues are handled swiftly and professionally.


Wikipedia: “Interactive or Online PR in the use of internet tools and techniques such as search engines, Web 2.0 social bookmaking, new media relations, blogging and social media marketing. ”

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