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Overcoming negative press: Marketing strategies that work

Something is bound to go awry in your company operations at some point. Businesses are run by human beings, and we all know humans make mistakes.
So you’re probably going to end up with bad press at some point. But when a high-ranking executive ends up getting a DWI or attracts a grievance of similar weight, that can be more bad press than you can handle.

The good news is, even the worst press can usually be dissipated with the right public relations tactics. When you encounter overwhelming negative media about your company, here are some responses worth trying:

1. Directly address complaints by publicising remedies

There’s no point trying to deny that someone within the company has made a mistake. Attempting to cover up the facts will only make the situation worse.

Instead, admit the wrong, but do it when you can offer solutions as well. Every mistake requires a remedy, and it’s easier to smooth things over when you have one readily available.

If you’re handling a DWI, for example, admit that the person erred, and talk about the legal and social solutions at hand. Point out the offender is attending Alcoholics Anonymous or doing community service.

One of the best ways a company can salvage its company image is to take responsibility for the actions of its employees.

2. Humbly seek feedback from clients

Don’t let your ego get in the way at any point. Just as you resolved to accept the consequences of your actions, acknowledge feedback from clients on how to improve.

It might come in the form of an informal interview, a formal letter, or a performance review. The only way to learn from mistakes is to accept the feedback given humbly, and apply the suggestions that make the most sense.

3. Make sure all departments are presenting the same new narrative

There are some cases in which you won’t wish to release the truth in its entirety. Whether you have to protect an individual or some distracting details aren’t essential to the case, you might have to leave out some information carefully when you talk to the press.

The last thing you want here is for another department on your team to tell a different story. If you cover the particulars of the narrative carefully with each department, and make sure people know which details to omit, you’ll more likely prevent a scandal from exploding in the media.

It’s worthwhile to note that you should never tell a story for the sake of a cover-up alone. Cover-ups will come to light at some point, and the mess may be too big for you to recover from then.

The only time you should refrain from telling the whole truth is when there’s another party involved that needs protection, or you’re leaving out a minuscule detail that’s tangential to the main story.

4. Gather as much information as possible

Before making a statement, coming up with solutions, or offering new angles, make sure you understand everything that’s at stake here. Gather information about what the press knows and what happened with the guilty party or parties. Look at the incident from all sides.

If the police were involved, ask for a copy of the official report. If there were witnesses, have them make a statement.

You can only help your company recover from bad PR if you know all the details. When two stories don’t line up, do a little digging to find source of the discrepancies before taking action.

5. Grab press attention with something more interesting

When you’re dealing with a brand crisis, the company needs time to recover. Sometimes that means getting the press off your back for a while.

If you can come up with another story that will shift attention away from the negative side of your business, give that to the press. This will only work when you’re dealing with something minor. Any large announcement or change in your company will be affected by the negative press in a way that will likely make things worse.

If you don’t have anything new to share with the media, or the issue is too large to distract the public, try offering a new angle on the main issue. Seek a third-party expert who can shed a positive light on the situation.

The person can do an interview with a non-biased reporter that will tell your company’s side of the story. In some situations, this could make the problem worse, but in others, it might build a little sympathy for your firm that will pull it out of the bad PR rut.

5 Aug 2016 10:27


About Boris Dzhingarov

Boris Dzhingarov graduated UNWE with a major in marketing. He is the CEO of ESBO ltd brand mentioning agency. He writes for several online sites such as,,, Boris is the founder of and