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How do Public Relation Agencies Handle Bad Publicity?



If you are in business long enough, there is a chance that a wave of negative publicity will hit you sooner or later. That is the reality of business. It might not even be your fault, but rather an unfortunate sequence of events that led to a public problem the company is facing.

It is important to prepare for those situations, deal with them as they arise and find a way to turn bad publicity into a good one. These are some of the things that PR agencies use to control these critical situations. Take a look.


Have a Plan in Place It might be impossible to predict what kind of bad publicity might arise years in the future, but having a general action plan in place can help tons. PR agencies prepare clients by counseling them on how to deal with media and community backlash.

The rest of the plan should include the list of people that can speak to the media in those situations to minimize the fallout of the whole situation. From the moment the company becomes aware of the bad publicity, it should be in attack mode to defend itself.

It is important to strike while the iron is hot. The longer you wait, the bigger the hit on the company’s reputation.


Never Hide The absolute worst thing you can do in those situations is to avoid the media and refuse to issue statements. This defensive move always backfires and creates an aura of suspicion surrounding your silence.

An alternative way to deal with this is by confronting the bad publicity straight on. In case the bad publicity has a basis in reality, then acknowledge the situation, apologize to the affected parties, and promise to make it right. In case of speculative bad publicity and statements that cannot be true, immediately question the source of that publicity and provide evidence for your claims.


Transparency is Key When bad publicity strikes, make sure to be forthcoming and open towards media. Most of the companies have been in this situation before. What makes a difference is how you decide to handle this situation and how it affects your long term reputation.

Being transparent is always the best bet. Provide the media with accurate information about the case, show true remorse, and use the opportunity to do some positive PR on behalf of your company. Cooperate with all authorities that might be involved in the case.


Positivity One of the best ways to fight bad publicity is to replace it with good publicity. Use this opportunity to communicate with the local community and the media that your company is a strong and positive member of the local community. Provide practical examples and community projects you have completed in the past.


Always acknowledge all the affected parties in the incident. Understand their frustrations and problems due to the incident.


Be Authentic and Consistent The whole company or organization must be presenting a united front when dealing with negative publicity. A consistent message is what the public is more likely to believe. At the same time, this does not mean that you should compromise and be something you are not.

Being authentic is what creates a good relationship with the public and the local community. Even if your company is to blame for bad publicity, showing true remorse and acknowledging the damage you have caused is a great way to get back on track.

By demonstrating the same transparency and authenticity, you can slowly rebuild the reputation you have lost and come out with a better organization or company out of it.

©2020 Segal Communications