We will break this question into its constituents:
- Why bad press is occurring?
- Upset customers
- You have haters
- Once you have bad press, where is it and what can you do about it?
- Search engine results
- Social media websites
First, let’s examine why is the bad press occurring?
Bad Press When You Have Upset Customers
Most of these are justifiable. Since they are your customers, find out why they are upset and resolve the issue with them, and do so with empathy in mind. Sometimes solving the issue might be just refunding them. You will have a small percentage of customers that will be upset no matter what. In these small cases, the best thing you can do is respond transparently, openly and again with empathy in mind, with your attempts to resolve the issue; and any reasonable person should be able to tell that you’ve made an honest attempt at resolving the issues and that they are not being reasonable.
The best defense of preventing bad press in the first place:
Take good care of your customers.
I understand that if your role is in PR or marketing, this may be outside your locus of control, which we will address how you can handle mitigating the bad PR.
Bad Press When You Have Haters
“Haters gonna hate.”
As your organization grows, you will get haters. Like the last scenario with upset customers, the best thing you can do is to be empathetic/transparent and show the audience that you’re making a genuine attempt at doing the right thing, and let the troll make themselves out to be what they are—a troll.
Secondly, if “bad press” has occurred already, where is it occurring and how can we mitigate this?
For many businesses, bad press occurs in the search engine results because people tend to Google a business before conducting business with them. This is particularly true with B2B businesses. Bad press also occurs in social media.
Keep in mind that conversations in social media oftentimes gets pulled into the search engines so they can be co-mingled.
What should you do to mitigate bad press once you have it?
Mitigating Bad Press in Search Engines
When somebody searches for your company and they see bad press, it is a bad look. This can definitely negatively affect your sales. Some companies create social media profiles such as a Facebook Business Page or a LinkedIn Company Page. But chances are, you already have these. You can also distribute a press release such as with PR Distribution™ with your company name in it. That way, your press release also shows up alongside whatever bad press you have, and this gives you an opportunity to share your narrative on your business. In fact, this can be a lot quicker than other methods.
Take a look at this example where the news story appeared in the search results within a couple of days. I have seen this happen in as fast as a several hours.
Mitigating Bad Press in Social Media
This loops back to why bad press occurs. It is usually from upset customers or haters. Treat both with empathy and compassion—and be very transparent and professional with your attempts at mitigating the issue(s) with them. Then let the audience/your prospective customers be the ultimate judge.
For those who are more advanced, since social media and search engine results are co-mingled, you can send a press release about your company addressing these issues on social media.