Even the best companies run into problems with their customers and clients at some point and with so many blogs and forums, it’s highly likely that customer complaints will find their way online.
What do you do when you come across a negative comment about your company online? For example on a forum or a blog post? It’s tempting to rush in and deny any accusations of wrong-doing. Many people think public relations means saying your company is wonderful and perfect and never does anything wrong, but, as the saying goes “nobody’s perfect” and it can cause more damage to take that line…
Is it a reasonable complaint?
Assess the complaint. What is the complaint about? Is it reasonable? Can your Customer Support team put the problem right, by replacing damaged goods, or offering a refund?
Is it easy for customers to contact your Customer Support team? The correct action may be to put the complainant directly in touch with the people that can help them (and do make sure that they can help them, otherwise the complainant will be doubly aggrieved). In this case, respond to the original comments politely. Don’t make false promises or confirm/deny the original complaint. Be sincere
Is the comment libellous?
Libel is a tricky issue, but if the comment is excessively heated (“Don’t use blah.com – they are rip-off merchants!”) it’s probably not worth your while getting into a debate. It may be worth your while contacting the publisher/webmaster and pointing out the wording. Most forums have strict policies about such content and will either remove the post, or remind the poster to abide by their T&Cs.
Don’t demand the post to be removed! Again, that could make the reputation problem even worse if you are too heavy-handed.
Is it that big a deal?
If the negative post is appearing prominently on searches for your brand name, this could definitely cause you a problem. In this case, the negative post will surely appear on a highly popular forum/blog and replying to the original post may well lengthen the life of the negative comment.
In this scenario, the best action is to “push down” the comments by engaging in a PR campaign that will generate lots of top level results.
If the post is hidden away on the 5th page of results on an obscure forum or blog, it’s probably best not to take any action, other than to learn from any mistakes your company may have made.
Reputation Management tips – get the basics right….
- Make sure your customer complaints route is effective and can be easily found
- Don’t rush into responding
- The customer may not always be right, but they should always be spoken to as if they might be right
How can PR help small businesses?
Public Relations or PR helps build a profile or image which is maintained in public through various forms of communication and is otherwise known as communications, or reputation management. The aim is to promote / provide exposure of your business to various audiences and to build relationships to enhance the brand.
Online PR and SEO
Online PR is used more now than it was 10 years ago, with the internet now established as a primary communications route and the increase of search engine optimization (SEO), online PR has developed with the help of SEO techniques to gain prominent search rankings in the major search engines. A good example is the WordPress SEO Plugin .
The use of high value keywords is essential when writing press releases for online distribution, also high quality links are what takes your audience to your websites products or services.
When writing press releases it is essential to keep the content interesting and provide insights or useful information like statistics to enhance the likability factor so your audience will continue reading. Knowing your audience is key when creating a public document, the style and way an article is written needs to appeal to the reader. Don’t forget to include your keywords!
Press release distribution
There are many paid and free resources online to send press releases to, depending on your online press release campaign budget. Not all resources will allow you to publish links; however some will include your homepage URL in the company information. It’s worth noting that getting a story published on a site which doesn’t allow links may offer substantially higher value than one that allows multiple links – such as the BBC site. Publishing your press releases may be time consuming, but after a week or so you may start to notice search results for your keywords in the most popular search engines like, Google, Yahoo and Bing.