There’s no denying Facebook had a rough 2018—and a fair share of negative press to go along with it. How a business responds to negative press can tell potential clients and investors, as well as the public at large, a lot about a company. Facebook’s responses to the critical news stories—and the public’s reaction to Facebook’s responses— can serve as a learning experience for businesses and agencies.
So, what are the best steps for dealing with negative press? Eleven experts from Forbes Agency Council share strategies for responding and correcting course for smoother sailing ahead.
1. Respond As A Unified Team
Make sure you’ve done your research, know your facts and have spoken with everyone on your team before making any public response. You need to have turned over every proverbial rock and be on the same page with those involved across all levels and departments to ensure you’re presenting the right response and aren’t setting yourself up for more surprises. – Whitney Fishman, Wavemaker
2. Stop The Bleeding
Own up to the error—if it is warranted—and publicly lay out your plan of correction. The more you try to hide behind legalese or industry jargon, the worse the negative impact can be. The more responsive you are to negative press, the more trust you can build, which can help stop the bleeding of your brand’s reputation. – Bernard May, National Positions
3. Be Transparent
The most important thing is to be transparent with the press. Transparency goes a long way, especially when we have tools that give us access to the world. When you are not transparent, there will be a backlash that will result in not being trusted. – Cagan Sean Yuksel, GRAFX CO.
4. Be Authentic
Don’t try to be something or someone else because you think it is what people want to hear or it worked for another organization. Your response should hold true to your brand and culture, or it will be rejected by those who know you and support you. When you respond with sincerity and humility, it is often received in the same way. – Korena Keys, KeyMedia Solutions
5. Be Comprehensive
Too many companies are focused on just stopping the bleeding or addressing only the crisis at hand, playing defense or using piecemeal approaches. But a crisis demands a comprehensive response. Take a beat to address any systemic, underlying issues and prepare a response that is authentic, honest, transparent and proactive—but also comprehensive, hitting every note. – Craig Greiwe, Rogers & Cowan
6. Always Be Accountable
At the end of the day, an executive is held accountable for how they handle things internally, day-to-day, with employees—recognize that any memos or conversations can become content used externally. This is especially true when employees feel there is a disconnect between what is being stated and how a company is being run. The day of the quiet, obedient employee is long gone, thank goodness. – Kathleen Lucente, Red Fan Communications
7. Learn How To Anticipate
The first lesson is to understand where you are the most vulnerable and where you might be acting in ways that are counter to your customers’ best interests or to the values of your company. Once the press is bad, the fundamentals always apply: Own up to your mistake, do not equivocate, outline a plan to mitigate the issue and provide follow-up proof that you have met your commitments. – Chris Cavanaugh, Freeman
8. Follow Proven Crisis Management Strategies
Every organization should have a plan if a crisis requires media interaction. Start with the four “Rs”: 1. Regret: Apologize. (Note: This is not necessarily the same as taking responsibility.) 2. Responsibility: Help solve the problem, no matter who is at fault. 3. Reform: Take steps to ensure it will not happen again. 4. Restitution: If appropriate, decide how to help those affected. – Patrick Nycz, NewPoint Marketing
9. Determine If It’s Worth It To Respond
Negative press can feel like getting punched in the gut, and the impulse is to immediately respond. Before doing so, take the time to determine if responding at all is really worth it: Will it have a positive effect in the long term? If it is worthwhile, the next step is to make sure you use carefully constructed, transparent, honest messages to convey your response. – Andrea Keirn, Black Rhino Marketing Group
10. Review, Edit And Pause Before You Post
Don’t throw out your long-term strategy by being too reactive. Learn, evolve and combine lessons with your existing approach. One thing is for certain: Responsible and thoughtful communication is essential. When posting publicly, especially on behalf of a brand, every message must be thought through, as even well-intended messages could be misinterpreted. Review, edit and pause before a post! – Scott Kellner, GPJ Experience Marketing
11. Have An Ongoing Action Plan
Be transparent about the issue. Being open and honest is essential to start building trust with your followers and customers. It is also important to have an action plan to rectify the situation and ensure it does not happen again. You can also consider regular updates to the press and your followers on how you’re improving the situation over time to increase your continued transparency. – Elyse Flynn Meyer, Prism Global Marketing Solutions