When Bad Online Stuff Happens To Good Organizations and People

It’s going to happen – if you put yourself out there, the negative people will come. Marketers call them trolls or anti-fans and there are ways we marketers can use our expertise to deflect their impact.

Just one more reason why marketing and PR professionals are indispensable – we are the brand defenders. We cannot control what these trolls, anti-fans or angry people post online, but we can bring balance and a way out of the negative muck.

One major US corporation secures web addresses for their top executives like NAMEGOESHERESUCKS.com and other possible negative web addresses – to protect their brand as well as their executives. They also closely monitor anything negative that might appear online, and they do it for these leaders as well as their brand name.

STARTING PLACE: The consumer is smart. Never underestimate the wisdom of the consumer; they get it. Too often we react to the 5% who are the trolls and neglect the 95% who truly do understand that not everything they read is true or fair. And they understand everyone makes mistakes.

It’s Just Not True – This is the big one and the online lies are what make most CEO’s crazy. “Get this off the web!” they say. And we can; but it takes a while and a commitment to online brand management. We cannot control people who tell lies. What we can control is dispensing the truth across every communication channel possible, and frequently. And often you will need the support of your legal counsel, the sales team and even the receptionist and other front line people who may ask about what they have heard.

TRUTH Augustine-QuoteCommunicate truth. That’s it. Just be sure to communicate, across all platforms and do it sincerely, truthfully and frequently. Start with your in-house team, move to others who depend on you for their livelihood (like retailers, suppliers or vendors) and tell your truth via email, product printing, your website, Facebook, wherever your customer normally finds you.

IT’S ALMOST OVER. Hang in there, depending on how much positive news you put out, it will take a minimum of 3 months for the bad news to show its ugly head all the time (or at least it seems) and by 6 months it should have disappeared from immediate view.

Lesson learned – maybe we should utilize our communication channels more often – to keep lines wide open with our audiences inside and outside the organization. If we do, next time these trolls just might look a wee bit smaller and less dangerous. And yes, you can count on a next time as we live in a world where anyone can say anything they like and once again smart marketing people will come to the rescue.

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