They say all publicity is good publicity, but most of us know this isn’t true. In fact, bad press can break you. After actress Roseanne Barr posted a highly controversial tweet earlier this year, ABC cancelled Roseanne.

However, for smaller mistakes, you can potentially turn some negative public opinion in your favour with a solid reputation management strategy. The easiest way is to acknowledge the mistake and apologize. Papa John’s is an excellent example. After founder John Schnatter made racially sensitive comments and resigned as a result, the company launched a campaign to earn back the trust of their customers.

Admitting you made a mistake is a hard pill to swallow, but here are some reasons why it may be a good marketing decision to publicly take responsibility for negative feedback:

Get Out Front

You may fear that responding to negative feedback might open up a can of worms, but by addressing negative reviews you can potentially fix the source of customer complaints before other consumers pile on.

Stop gossip in its tracks by responding immediately to negative reviews. It’s easier to put out a spark than it is to let your clients blow on it until it catches fire.

You may also want to implement an internal social media policy so your employees are aware of what isn’t appropriate to post, whether they are on the clock or not. You don’t want them to start negative gossip about your business.

Be Honest

Humans value honesty. We want to trust that businesses wouldn’t lie to us about their quality. Your clients expect the same honesty whenever you talk about your brand’s values. It’s important to remember that your employees reflect your brand, and their behaviour is synonymous with your business’s behaviour. If an employee acts in a way that goes against your clients’ expectations, acknowledge that their behaviour was unacceptable and outline the steps being made to rectify the issue. Your clients will more likely accept your honesty when you show that you welcome theirs.

Build Trust

After a business mistake becomes public, it’s inevitable that some customers will lose at least some trust in your brand. The Papa John’s stock fell 3% this year, but it could have been worse.

Regain trust by boldly owning up to clients’ concerns with a video campaign. The goal is to have consumers respect that you’re making a conscious effort to improve when your business is going through a rough patch. Or follow Starbucks’ example and require your staff to complete extensive sensitivity training. Starbuck’s approach was especially effective because they reacted to the issue in a public manner. If worse comes to worst and you fear your brand can’t recover from a devastating blow, you may want to consider rebranding.

At CreativeWorks Marketing, we monitor the online presence of our clients every day. If you need help managing negative buzz about your brand, contact us today.