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Bad PR: How To Deal With Negative Public Relations

angry man shouting using a megaphone

Even the most successful and well-regarded companies sometimes face negative public relations (PR). Whether it stems from a product recall, employee misconduct, or a social media faux pas, bad PR can significantly impact your brand’s reputation and bottom line if not handled properly. In this article, we explore what bad PR entails, its effects, and strategies for effectively navigating such challenging situations.

What is Bad PR?

Bad PR refers to any unfavourable or negative publicity that a company receives, which can diminish its public image and credibility; this often arises from events, actions, or statements that paint the organisation in a negative light or contradict its stated values and mission. Bad PR can spread quickly, especially in today’s digital age, making it important for businesses to have a plan in place to manage and mitigate its impact.

Types of Bad PR

Negative Press Coverage

One common form of bad PR is negative press coverage, where media outlets publish stories that criticise or expose wrongdoings within a company. This could include reports of unethical business practices, product defects, or leadership scandals, with negative press being able to shape public opinion and erode trust in a brand.

Social Media Backlash

In the era of social media, a single tweet or post can ignite a firestorm of criticism; companies that make insensitive comments, engage in controversial activities, or fail to meet customer expectations may face backlash on platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Social media amplifies the reach and speed of bad PR, so it’s good to have a plan in place to handle it.

Crisis Situations

Sometimes, bad PR stems from crisis situations beyond a company’s control, such as natural disasters, data breaches, or industry-wide scandals. While not directly responsible, companies must still navigate these challenging circumstances and communicate effectively with stakeholders to maintain trust and credibility.

Effects of Bad PR

Damage to Brand Reputation

The most significant impact of bad PR is the damage it can inflict on a brand’s reputation; negative publicity can alter public perception, leading customers, partners, and investors to question a company’s values, quality, and reliability. Rebuilding trust and restoring a tarnished image can be a long and difficult process.

Financial Impact

Bad PR can also often create financial consequences for companies; negative publicity can lead to decreased sales, lost partnerships, and even a drop in stock prices. Not to mention the cost of managing a PR crisis – including hiring crisis communication experts and implementing corrective measures –  which can also strain a company’s budget.

Strategies for Dealing with Bad PR

Transparency and Accountability

accountability typewritten in a white piece of paper

When faced with bad PR, it’s essential for companies to be transparent and accountable. Acknowledging mistakes, taking responsibility, and outlining steps to address the issue can help mitigate the fallout. Attempting to cover up or downplay negative events often backfires and further erodes public trust.

Engage with Stakeholders

Effective communication is key during a PR crisis. Companies should engage with stakeholders – customers, employees, partners, and the media – to address concerns, clarify information, and provide updates on corrective actions. Consistent and empathetic messaging can help rebuild relationships and restore confidence.

Monitor and Manage Social Media

In the digital age, monitoring and managing social media is key for mitigating bad PR; companies should have a social media crisis plan in place, including guidelines for responding to negative comments and criticisms. Proactively addressing concerns and providing timely updates can help control the narrative and minimise the spread of misinformation.

Turning Bad PR into an Opportunity

While bad PR can be damaging, it can also present opportunities for growth and improvement. Companies that handle crises with grace, transparency, and a commitment to change can emerge stronger and more respected. By learning from mistakes and implementing meaningful reforms, organisations can demonstrate their resilience and dedication to their values.

Learn and Improve

As a top PR agency in London, we at Clickslice always say that every PR crisis offers lessons for the future. So if it happens to you, your business should conduct thorough post-mortems to identify the root causes of the issue and develop strategies to prevent similar occurrences. This may involve updating policies, improving communication channels, or investing in employee training. Embracing continuous improvement can help companies bounce back from bad PR and build a more positive public image.

Final Thoughts

Navigating bad PR is never easy, but with the right strategies and mindset, there’s’ no reason you can’t weather the storm and emerge stronger. At Clickslice, we understand the challenges of managing negative public relations, and our team of seasoned professionals can help you develop a comprehensive crisis communication plan, monitor media coverage, and engage with stakeholders to protect your brand’s reputation.

So whether you’re a startup looking to establish a strong PR foundation or an established company facing a PR crisis, we’re here to help. Check out our PR for Startups Guide for more insights on navigating the competitive landscape and building a positive public image, and contact us today to learn how we can support you in handling bad PR and achieving your communication goals.

Article by:

Joshua George is the founder of ClickSlice, an SEO Agency based in London, UK.

He has eight years of experience as an SEO Consultant and was recently hired by the UK government for SEO training. Joshua also owns the best-selling SEO course on Udemy, and has taught SEO to over 100,000 students.

His work has been featured in Forbes, Entrepreneur, AgencyAnalytics, Wix and lots more other reputable publications.