We are all aware of how brutal the Internet can be. The slightest mistakes can lead to the biggest public debacles. For entrepreneurs and online marketers, like us, we face the challenges of cyberspace each day, dreading the moment it’ll stick a knife in our backs when we’re not watching.
But hey, it’s just a stab wound, right? Your business brand will suffer, but there’s no reason for you NOT to recover from the fiasco you recently went through. It’s just a matter of knowing how to defend yourself from the brutality and sadism of the World Wide Web.
To get you started, here are some defence mechanisms you should cloak yourself with:
The Quick Reflex
Marketing disasters only happen if you’re not quick enough to deflect it before it’s too late. Once it ensues, you have to chase it down the road and beat it until it spews the ugly slime that ruined your business brand. But that’s me trying to be poetic.
The primary goal here is for you to implement an immediate action plan to prevent further damage to your company. 24 hours is too long a time. It should take no more than 12 hours for you to organise and instil solutions before things are blown wildly out of proportion.
The Universal Policy
Honesty is the most obvious solution to any PR scandal. However, we all know how easy it is to succumb and give in to the pressure fanned by the media. A lot of us sacrifice honesty for the mere price of putting on a brave face, which will certainly cost the integrity of your company.
Regardless of what the situation is, be upfront and honest with your PR actions. Otherwise, the truth will come knocking on your door and bite you where it hurts the most—your business image.
It’s actually great that social media is now more forgiving of scandals remedied by honesty. It encourages us to stay within the boundaries of truth when handling any marketing disasters. Plus, it packs a positive punch for your brand’s image, despite recently facing a public crisis.
The Troll Factor
Trolls exist for the mere purpose of illogical entertainment on the Internet. But for marketers like us, they are the very scum of the earth, our worst nightmares. Why?
Because these people can’t be argued or negotiated with. They won’t listen to reason or logic because their title as trolls prevents them from doing so. “Some people”, like what Alfred in Nolan’s The Dark Knight says, “just want to watch the world burn.”
How do you rise unburnt like Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones? Simply by turning a deaf ear. I know I said that immediate response is the solution, but again, these are trolls in cyberspace. They won’t listen to immediacy, logic, or honesty. They’ll argue with you for the mere sake of arguing. So what should you do? Just stay quiet and let their interest wane, which certainly will happen before long, as there are thousands of other scandals on the Internet for them to sink their gnarled teeth into.
Simply put, troll the trolls with silence.
The Non-Violent Reaction
It’s a good thing if you react and respond to social scandals, but tread carefully and don’t overreact. It will only make you appear defensive, which will eventually fan the blazing fire of business PR disaster.
These days, it’s better to under-react than be over the top. Be as transparent, sincere, and honest as possible with your solutions. Most of all, you have to assess the situation’s impact on your clients. They are, after all, the lifeline that keeps your company alive. So it’s better if you know how they’re dealing with the scandal for you to devise a proper solution that benefits both parties.
The Social Media IQ
You know full well that the buzz started with social media, like blogs and social sharing platforms. So, it’s only logical that it should end there as well. If the spark started in Facebook, use your Facebook Page to counter the rumour/scandal. Again, don’t make-up some lame story just to appear legit. Even if the truth is ugly, state it outright and you’ll see that Internet users will be on your side.
More importantly, be smart about social media optimisation. Release creative and entertaining campaigns, use the right platforms, respond to fans and followers, and update. You may have been part of a public fiasco but the world hasn’t stopped turning and neither should your business.
Bottom line is…
Once the story is out there, you can’t take it back. The best thing you can do is handle it as professionally and honestly as possible. In fact, you can even try to be humorous about the PR disaster. Laugh and the world laughs with you, right?
Lastly, remember that people will remember you not because you had a scandal, but because you handled a scandal flawlessly.
About the Author:
Richard Eaves is a Digital Marketing Specialist at Smart Traffic, a private company based in Bristol offering SEO services in the UK, Australia, and in other countries. He oversees SEO strategies for Smart Traffic’s 300+ campaigns.