When it Comes to Your Brand, Honesty is Still the Best Policy

Has this scenario happened to you? Business is progressing nicely. A number of lucrative events are already on the books for the new year and your new sales efforts are showing great promise. Everything seems to be going according to plan when out of the blue—wham!—you’re hit with a negative post on social media about a recent event you catered. If this hasn’t happened to you, be prepared, it will since avoiding such a scenario is almost impossible today.

But what do you do when such a post threatens your brand’s reputation? If you’re like most proud business owners, you’ll probably want to immediately fight back before too many people get the wrong idea about your company. You’ll want to set the record straight and put this complaining individual in their place. In reality, though, that’s the last thing you want to do. Reacting on impulse most often only makes the situation worst and puts you in a defensive position, even if you are not at fault.

Because of the importance of addressing issues such as this, most companies today have detailed, well-thought-out crisis communications plans in place that have been created in great detail and expense. For the average business without the time and financial resources to complete such a plan, what can you do to protect your interests?

Following are a few suggestions to help you respond to negative criticism of your business on social media without making matters worse.

Avoid the Fight. Be professional at all times, no matter how much the criticism hurts. This is not the time to get into the mud but rather calls for a calm approach - take the high road.

Take Your Time. Avoid reacting to the post with an off-the-cuff response.

Get the Facts. Investigate the matter to see if the criticism has merit. Get a clear understanding of the situation and determine the best way to respond. If your company is at fault, acknowledge it and make amends the most practical way possible. Avoid coming off defensive but rather truly concerned over the miscue. If not at fault, avoid excessive details in your response and simply explained what happened and why you are not at fault. In either case, be truthful in your response. Remember, honesty is the best policy.

Show You Care. Look upon this issue as an opportunity to not only diffuse a potentially disastrous situation but also to demonstrate how much you care about your customers – even if they are complaining about your service. Be positive and genuine at all times.

Protect Your Brand. Do everything in your power to arrive at a positive outcome to the situation, but don’t allow your brand to become a doormat for someone’s personal vendetta. If not at fault, stand your ground, demonstrate patience and understanding and gain empathy but protect your brand. You’ve worked too hard to build it.

Donna Hansbury

President, Ideaworks Food Marketing, Plymouth, PA

Donna Hansbury has more than 25 years experience in the creative and print industries. Prior to joining Ideaworks Food Marketing, Donna served as President of Unigraphic Color Corporation where she was responsible for all senior management functions at the multi-million commercial printing company. During her tenure at Unigraphic, Donna helped the organization achieve double-digit growth by focusing her efforts in the critical areas of customer relations, planning/scheduling, vendor sourcing/...