In the era of cancel culture, most businesses and public figures can expect to face a public relations nightmare. These dilemmas can range from a political scandal, a DUI report, negative customer reviews to an executive scandal. No matter what predicament you may find yourself in, it is important to have the capabilities and strategies to manage and monitor your reputation online, especially over social media. Every business or individual representing a brand should have a well thought out public relations plan or team in place to ensure that the response made to any negative publicity is effective and well received by the public.

Let’s take a look at a few simple ways you can monitor and manage your reputation on social media.

1. Take responsibility, avoid spurring on conflict, and refrain from displaying immature behavior.

An easy way to shift negative attention is to place the blame on someone. A business can easily do the same, shifting the focus onto employees or consumers. However, in the long run, this approach is counterproductive.

To preserve its reputation, a company should take responsibility for any mistakes and display a unified front. If a company were to blame others for a mishap, consumers may assume that it is irresponsible and unfriendly.

In instances where negative press is uncalled for and based on false accusations, refrain from encouraging conflict. It is wise to follow the online mentions of your brand over social media or in news articles so that you can take quick action. Monitoring your social media coverage is helpful so that it is easier to notice posts that contain misinformation. You should also refrain from engaging with internet trolls, as these kinds of individuals tend to have hours to spend responding to you and spurring on vicious behavior.

2. While you should not hide from negative press, you should not take action if the situation is not urgent.

Many public figures often respond to negative press by not responding at all.  Instead, some individuals or businesses decide to “lay-low” for a while. Depending on the situation, this decision may be one of the worst things you could do as a business owner or representative. YouTuber and online personality Tana Mongeau is an example of this strategy backfiring. This past summer, Mongeau found herself in the center of an online controversy after former friends accused her of racial microaggressions and gaslighting. Mongeau also upset many of her fans by attending massive parties in Los Angeles, California, despite the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown orders. Instead of responding to the news promptly, Mongeau waited weeks to make a formal apology to those she offended, angering fans further who felt her apology was insincere. As a result, the star suffered losses to her following, and her online reputation was damaged.

The effective use of reputation management strategies has proven that there are ways to put a spin on negative press so that it does not hurt a company. Remember, bad press is also good press, and you should try to remain in the public eye. Scandals do not simply disappear, so hiding from negative publicity will not do much good.

When faced with a blow to your online reputation, try asking yourself,

  • Is the situation so dire that I need to respond publicly?
  • Will the negative news coverage hurt my sales and business relationships?
  • Is the publication source popular and known among your target audience?
  • Is the article reporting misinformation?

Answering these questions will help you determine whether or not you need to take action or contact the publication responsible for the negative press coverage. If the situation at hand leads you to believe that you do not need to respond, know that taking the silent approach is nothing to be ashamed of. Instead of responding to statements that lack factual evidence, take time to strengthen relationships, and quickly communicate with consumers. Monitoring the situation in this case, and keeping a cool head is also a great response. By not responding to certain negative publicity, you then limit the attention the news receives. If you respond to a false claim made by a reporter, for example, you may unintentionally validate the reporter’s claims and bring attention to their piece.

3. Realize when it is time to take action.

A public response may be necessary if negative press is likely to severely damage the reputation of a company or individual. By making a public statement, a company can efficiently disseminate information that it wants to be heard by others. Companies can post this response on different platforms such as their website, blog, or social media pages. By posting a public response on these platforms, a company can monitor the situation through the post’s comments.

A strong public statement should directly address the issue at hand in a balanced, factual manner. An effective public statement should read like a personal letter and aim to connect with readers so it can give off a sense of empathy and credibility. Joe Culotta, the communications manager of the Hispanic Leadership Fund, shares, “The best way to handle a crisis is to just be open and honest with your audience… The sooner you apologize and admit your mistake, the sooner people can forgive you. Also, the faster you handle the problem, the sooner people will stop trashing you on social media.”

4. Do not delete negative reviews or comments.

When managing and monitoring your reputation on social media, you should veer away from deleting negative comments or reviews posted on your online platforms. Instead, it is beneficial to engage with users to let them know the company cares and that it is working to fix any and all mistakes. Taking this approach shows users that their opinion matters and they may be more likely to continue supporting the company. Companies should study the issue, apologize for the negative experiences discussed in a review, and provide details about any changes that the company has made or intends to make.

5. Time is key.

Responding too quickly or too slowly to bad press could be a make or break for a company. As discussed previously, delaying a public response to negative publicity can hurt a company’s reputation and cost them some members of its loyal base. Issuing an early response is likewise dangerous because a premature response might not include all the facts.

6. Appoint a response team.

 Having an effective response team before a crisis can help minimize the damage caused by a negative publication. A response team can devote its time and effort to speak on behalf of your company. Evan Nierman, the founder of Red Banyan, says, “It’s important that the organization can react fast and speak with one voice, which is difficult to achieve when multiple people begin to speak on its behalf.” Seeking the help of public relations professionals is important because they understand the company values and also understand how to shape a conniving story using a journalistic perspective.

7. Closely monitor the situation.

A company facing a crisis should pay close attention to inbound and outbound communications to address questions or concerns from online users. George Sopko, the vice president of Stanton, says, “A key component of effective crisis communications is understanding what various audiences and stakeholders are saying about an organization at any given time…” Sopko also suggests that businesses establish monitoring systems that quickly uncover negative online trends before they grow and grab the attention of the media.

Managing and monitoring your reputation on social media is a worthwhile preventative measure for any business.

All news cycles come to an end and a scandal may be forgotten as the next big story is published. However, one thing that people will not forget is a company’s response to a mistake and how it carries itself. A brand’s success depends on getting good publicity, and monitoring and managing your reputation on social media helps ensure that you can avoid or prepare for bad coverage.

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