Social media and the internet are here to stay; so here is a simple plan to handle negative posts and articles about your business.
If what they are saying is 100% true; then Apologize for the mistake and own it. Future clients will respect this.
If what they say is partially true; Attack and Apologize at the same time. Attack the inaccuracies in the post or article with facts not emotion. Use the attorney strategy and impeach the poster; if people see that some of what they posted is false or in question it will cause them to have doubt about the accuracy of the rest of their post. Admit you and your firm are not perfect but that you do your best and will go above and beyond to correct any mistakes.
If it is 100% false; remember this is the internet and the facts do not have to be true. There are many sites that allow anonymous posts without any fact checking. You think well I will sue them! Sounds great but the current laws in US state that you can not sue the host because they did not provide the content! If this post was in a printed news paper or written by the host then they are liable for the accuracy of the content. You can hire an attorney and get a court order to have the host produce the name of the poster and then sue them but this takes a lot of time and resources and will not fix the damage that is done while you are running through this process. Plus it takes a lot of your time!
Do not be discouraged and feel hopeless; go on the attack and give the facts. Some people will believe everything they read and you will lose them as clients but let’s ste back for a minute and analyze this!
First let’s identify who you are losing; in my experience 95% of the customers you lose, are the customers not worth having! They are drama queens and take up 80% of your time while producing 20% of your income. Turn negative press into a positive by using it as a litmus test for new customers; the ones you lose are saving you time, money and future negative posts. As my grandmother said “Birds of a feather; flock together”; the people who will believe the negative attacks are the same people who will posts negative attacks.
I feel we have to address the Vengeance Factor. There are times that personal situations like: divorce, child custody battles, breakups and many other personal situations will cause angry individuals to attack your business for the sole purpose of hurting you anyway they can! I have seen small businesses ruined by family and friends of a divorced spouse attack not just the person but the person’s business. In some cases this as evened driven a business into bankruptcy because they did not go on the attack and call these people out!
- be professional and stay to the facts
- do not be emotional and sound like a drama queen
- KISS: keep it simple and short (this is the nice version)