Bad Press When You Market Information
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It is bound to happen someday. For one reason or another you may experience bad press when you market information. It might be in the form of complaints in a blog comment thread or an online forum, or it might be a well-publicized news item that gets published on the web and also in newspapers. But whatever happens, and whenever it happens, it’s best to be prepared.
Naturally, it’s impossible to know the exact circumstances that may cause bad press, but the art and science of being prepared is called “damage control,” and it is what we all need to employ in case of an emergency. Damage control is achieved by assuming a position of candor and flexibility in terms of a response. And a response is definitely in order whenever justifiable complaints and criticism arise.
There’s no better example of the public relations disaster that can happen when accusations (even in the form of rumors) turn out to be true than the recent exposure of Lance Armstrong’s drug use throughout his competitive cycling career. Did he really think the truth would never come out?
Honestly, I think his loss of world-class titles and the resulting public humiliation is a perfect example of what can happen if we don’t fess up at the right time, in the right way. Being able to say, “Yeah, I screwed up, and here’s what I learned from it…” is the key to public forgiveness. Lying and hiding our mistakes makes the situation ‘way worse, sooner or later.
I am talking about genuine mistakes in this post. Unwarranted complaints and criticism is another matter entirely, although it may also require careful damage control communication.