PR Hacks

Canceled or Crushing It: Surviving Negative PR with Style

Bryce North
6 minutes
May 27, 2024

Well, shit, what are people saying about you now? Maybe you truly fucked up, or perhaps someone’s trying to drag you down with them. It doesn’t matter what happened, it’s time to flip that script and turn that bad press into an asset.

Keep on reading to learn more about how to own the shit out of your own narrative and handle negative PR like a pro. Build up that bulletproof brand and be the boss you were born to be.

Forget everything else you’ve heard, we’re going to dive straight into how to crush it, even when the world feels like it’s crushing you. So, take control and turn the tide today.

Own Your Narrative Before It Fucks You

First things first: You need to take charge of the situation before it spirals even more out of your control. After all, what is negative PR if you are the one writing the stories? You need to grasp this issue with both hands by crafting a strong and clear response that puts you back in the driver’s seat.

It might feel tough, but you need to be transparent with your audience about what happened in order to start building back their trust. This is true whether or not the issue is your fault. 

Acknowledge the issue directly. Set the tone of the conversation you want to have and do not engage with people who want to drag it elsewhere. Ensure you take the high road, and make yourself look like a leader by addressing the situation head-on.

When you discuss the issue, avoid downplaying it or hiding what occurred, but instead use it as an opportunity to show off the type of company you have. If it’s in your style, try to use humor to defuse tension and humanize yourself, but be aware that this can be risky and may make it look like you don’t care. If you have already established yourself as a “fun” or funny brand, this is more likely to work, though.

Don’t Bullshit or the Negative PR Will Mess You Up

Put out a clear, concise statement that addresses the core issue at hand. Avoid corporate nonsense and instead aim to be relatable about everything that has happened. People will be carefully watching you, and will not appreciate anything but an honest tone.

Start by discussing everything you understand about the situation. This includes the negative things that may have occurred on your side. If you do not know all the facts yet, do not be afraid to say so.

You should then discuss the steps you are taking to resolve the issue. If this includes investigation, make it as clear as possible what you are doing to learn as much as possible. When you cannot say something due to privacy or legal issues, be up-front about this, and people will then be more forgiving about what you cannot say.

When your statement is ready, post it to all the relevant platforms. If you are posting somewhere with a limited amount of text, such as X (formerly Twitter), you can do this with images. These should be branded if possible, allowing you to maintain your style and reminding people of you at your best.

Turning a Crap Situation to Your Advantage

Despite it feeling like the shit is hitting the fan, negative public relation woes can also be an opportunity to showcase some of your strengths. As they say, all publicity is good publicity”. So, when such criticisms come in, use it as a chance to highlight how resilient your brand is by continuing to engage with those who have your back. 

As things move forward, use the situation to tell a compelling comeback story. Unless a lawyer advises otherwise, make a series of posts over time that discuss the steps you take to handle the problem that has come to light. You may not be able to discuss specific individuals, but you can talk about any active attempts you have made to offset issues people raised.

As an extreme example, look at how Johnson & Johnson dealt with an issue related to literal cyanide in their product. They worked directly with authorities to ensure they prevented long-term damage to their brand. Their identity appearing alongside investigators prevented the situation from spiraling further.

Rising Like a Goddamned Phoenix

When things start to simmer down, you can then start to capitalize on the broader audience you now have. While you might always have a few “nay-sayers”, if anything they will engage with your brand more, boosting your visibility on social media. Depending on your brand identity, you might even be able to get away with responding directly to these, reinforcing your brand values as you do so.

Instead of only figuring out how to deal with negative press, though, you should also try to rally your more loyal customers to support you publicly. Encourage them to create positive reviews, share good testimonials, and talk about you with peers. This will ensure people see the best of what you have to offer.

Moving forward, use the support of your loudest fans to amplify your positive message. Ensure they know and understand your values, and reward those who stay loyal with exclusive offers or content to give them reasons to stay.

Despite these different methods of engagement, though, you should never cut anyone off. Take in the feedback, both good and bad, from everyone who chooses to engage with you. Use it to recognize ways you can make meaningful changes in your business and your processes, and put them into action.

If you leverage your followers’ opinions in a way that is for the better and comes across as up-front and honest, you can show that you value your customers. It also shows a willingness to improve and adapt. Done in the right way, this can even turn those swayed by bad PR into advocates for your cause.

Last of All, Don’t Be a Little Pitch

Don’t let the negative PR you will have to deal with drag you down. The most important thing is that you keep your head and respond to the negative PR without panicking.

If you think it’ll all be too much, we don’t blame you. It can be overwhelming, and getting someone to help can prevent it from taking over your whole life. Lucky for you, here at Don’t Be a Little Pitch we specialize in helping people in your position.

Let’s crush that shitty PR into dust. Connect with us today and start owning the narrative before it owns you.

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