A Strategist's Guide to Dealing With a PR Nightmare

Take one look at the modern business landscape and it becomes increasingly clear just how important it is for a business to maintain its reputation. Gone are the days when businesses could push problems under the rug without them being noticed by the public. Technology and the Internet have changed everything. If a business messes up in today's world, it's going to be known. 

For business owners, there's nothing more important than gaining a more thorough understanding of how the public tends to perceive a businesses's reputation. If you have a strong handle on how the public will react in the case of a PR crisis, you'll have a better chance of being able to avert such a scenario if it comes to pass. 

Social media has been both a blessing and a cure for the business world. Gone are the days in which social media was primarily meant as a hang-out for young adults. It has become an extremely important tool for businesses of all kinds. While social media can certainly make it easier to connect with an audience, it's truly a double-edged sword. Make one wrong move, and it can be incredibly difficult to recover.

Consider the scenario in which Rolling Stone magazine recently put Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on the cover of its August issue. Regardless of the point the magazine was trying to make in doing this, it sparked a great deal of controversy on social media. With thousands of people throughout the country taking to Facebook to proclaim that they would never buy a copy of the magazine again, it should stand to reason that Rolling Stone may indeed be going through a reputation crisis at the moment. Social media can feed a company to the wolves just as quickly as it can help it rise to prominence depending upon the situation.

Sticking with the concept of social media flare-ups between businesses and customers, it's important to take into consideration just how easy it is to respond to criticism that is posted online, and how detrimental this can be to a company. As an example, a restaurant was recently featured on a popular television show, which painted a picture of the establishment being horribly mismanaged. Instead of taking a crisis PR approach to the scenario, the owners took to Facebook and answered criticism-filled posts with retorts that were perhaps even more damaging to the company's image. 

Instead of responding to criticism, it's best to start building up the reputation of your business in a positive light. Brand.com reviews can be helpful in repairing your reputation, as they highlight the good aspects of your business rather than the bad. Every little bit helps, especially if you're stuck in the middle of a crisis scenario.

If you find yourself in a scenario in which your business has made mistakes that have gone public, it can seem as if things are bound to spiral downhill. Most of the time, however, a strong reputation-management firm will be able to help you determine exactly what needs to be a done in order to fix things. The less action you take into your own hands, the more likely it is that you'll recover.