How to Deal With Bad PR by Juli Smith

Friday, March 21, 2014

Today's guest expert is Julianne Smith.

In the wedding industry people like to talk about how to get media attention or how to get your business featured. We like to talk about how pretty and lovely things are because most times things are pretty and lovely. But, there is a flipside. What happens when PR goes bad? What happens when you put your business out there and it doesn’t go as planned?

There Will Be Haters
The first rule is to know that things will go wrong. When you put yourself out there, there are bound to be “haters.” This can mean negative comments on a blog post, bad reviews from a client that you went above and beyond for, articles in a magazine that weren’t what you would have written. The list goes on. The fact that there will be negativity is not a reason avoid interviews or be scared of reporters. The benefits far outweigh downsides. However, just knowing that negative things will happen is comforting.

Make Lemonade Out of Lemons
In the wedding business, few things are so terrible that you can’t recover from them. If something goes wrong, the first instinct should be to try to change your focus. Find the positive and spin it to your advantage. Is there any possible way that you can benefit from this? Is it truly that bad? How can you use this to make your business better or bigger or more well known in some way? I'm a firm believer that all press is good press. Every mention or comment is just more attention, which ultimately will grow your business, if handled appropriately.

The Last Word
When something negative is said about your business, don’t let it go. And, don't let your opponent have the last word. Never, never, never (Did I say never?) let a negative word go without a response in some fashion or form from you. No one will stick up for your business but you. Always find a way to fight back and set the record straight. It doesn’t have to be a tit for tat public battle. You can and should be creative with your responses. Make sure that your voice or side of the story is the last one the potential customer hears.

Admit Fault and Apologize
If you messed up, own it. If someone who works for you messed up, take responsibility. Apologize fully and make it right. Avoiding or denying a mistake will only make it worse and be detrimental to your business in the long run. In certain industries admitting fault is more nuanced and delicate, but in the wedding industry, admitting fault can set you free. It is hard to argue with someone who says, “I’m sorry.” Customers accept imperfection as long as you apologize and make it right. We are all human.

It Won’t Go Away
What doesn’t work is avoiding it and hoping that it will all just go away. If something goes wrong, come up with a plan to counter it and stick to the plan. Don’t just assume that time will heal the wounds. Even worse, don’t think that we are in the wedding industry and this won’t matter to a new set of clients coming in next year. With the Internet, comments and negativity live on. It is best to deal with them.

Pick Yourself Up and Move On
One bad story does not define your company. Mistakes happen. There will be more haters. Learn from it, fix it, move on and don't do it again. There are plenty of other mistakes to make!

JULIANNE SMITH worked in public relations for over ten years as a political communications strategist. She was a presidential appointee for then-President George W. Bush and the spokeswoman for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). She also served on the White House’s traveling advance team for then-Vice President Cheney. Prior to that, she worked on Capitol Hill for five years serving as the communications director for U.S. Congressman Ed Royce (R-CA-40) where she was responsible for all outreach to the media and the day-to-day interactions with the media. Juli now owns The Garter Girl, the world's leading source for stylish wedding garters, and has been featured on the Today Show, WeTV, Daily Candy and Lifetime, among others. She is also the founder of United With Love. You can follow her on Twitter at Garter Girl and United With Love.

Think Splendid will be offering insights and perspectives from Splendid Guests for the months of February and March while I am working in Africa

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