In 2017, the American market has already seen a number of public relations crises, from Pepsi to United Airlines. While bad publicity can severely hurt a company’s sales, organizations need to understand what they can do to respond to negative press and maintain good relationships with existing and potential customers. One of the best tools that individuals have for addressing and recovering from bad press is digital marketing. Social media has made us more connected than ever, and companies need to see their online marketing arm as a way of reaching out and repairing relationships with customers. The following tips can help organizations respond to public relations disasters in a meaningful way, while also strengthening their Internet presence and earning the respect of potential customers.
Create digital buzz with press releases
One part of combatting the effects of bad press involves pushing down content associated with negative events. An easy way to do this is by publishing digital press releases, which will appear on Google, Bing, Yahoo, and other search engines. While PR Newswire remains one of the best methods of publishing to reputable news outlets, it requires a subscription fee. Although other distribution options are free, they may not provide the best placement. At the same time, these free options enable new content to appear on Google News at the very least. The digital press releases should be simple and concise news stories. Organizations should avoid “creating” news, which could lead to an even larger backlash, but there is almost always something worth writing about, such as a novel product, a new hire, a reworked service, or even charitable activities that the company has undertaken.
Use blogs to introduce more great content
Another way to bring more quality content to the forefront is through blogs. While creating an excellent organizational blog is essential to online marketing, responsive marketing needs to go beyond this step. While posting to a company’s own blog should continue, marketers need to focus on other avenues, such as the LinkedIn blogging platform and Medium. Companies can even begin taking part in conversations occurring on other major blogs related to their business pursuits. These conversations should read less like advertisements and more like genuine contributions to the topic at hand. All of the stories should be relevant to the company and should not be repetitive. Sharing posts across platforms is possible, but companies should avoid making each platform look the same as the others. Creating a theme for each of the blogs helps to differentiate them.
Refrain from fueling the fire
When bad press happens, marketers often want to assess the extent of the damage, so they click through all the links and continue to do so for days on end. Unfortunately, search engines rank content based on the number of clicks, so this behavior actually keeps negative stories at the top of the search results for longer than they need to be. Of course, clicking on links is only one way to fuel the fire. Organizations should avoid angry or heated responses to any negative press, which will only further inflame detractors. Heartfelt and considerate responses that recognize wrongdoing can help to earn back the trust of customers who felt wronged by the organization, but it is also acceptable to stay quiet about the bad publicity altogether and to focus marketing efforts elsewhere.
Beef up multimedia content across the board
Often, the negative content associated with a public relations incident is not just text. Photographs and videos can be shared easily and rank high on search engines as a result. Organizations can combat this by creating their own images and videos that they can then post across various social media platforms. Ideally, the content will appeal to existing and potential customers so that they can share it. Marketers should focus on creating usable content, such as infographics and how-to videos that people will find useful and that they can share with their networks. YouTube is a great site for posting videos, and organizations can share them through their other social media outlets. Organizations may want to get creative with the content that they create, such as podcasts. Using important keywords in the content can help to bury undesirable search results.
Ensure that social media profiles are optimized
Social media profiles rank high in search engines, so companies may want to expand their presence, particularly if they currently only use the basic social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter. Opening new accounts can bring them to the first page of search-engine results when people search for the company. Importantly, social media profiles should not stay dormant. When marketers regularly update profiles and add new and relevant content, the profiles will rank much higher. Some important networks to use include LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, and Google Plus, although there are also many industry-specific networks.