When companies are faced with negative press it can be difficult to decide whether or not to respond, and how to go about doing so effectively. When Walmart was recently under fire by the New York Times, they found a creative way to respond that turned the situation in their favor. Walmart’s Vice President of Corporate Communications ‘edited’ the New York Times piece on the company blog to correct the inaccuracies it presented. This humorous way of combating the negative attention demonstrates several do’s when it comes to combating negative attention.

Here are some tips on responding to negative press:

  • Correct any false information. If incorrect information is being circulated, it is important to correct it. The Walmart blog edited the inaccuracies (as well as the grammar) in the New York Times piece to ensure that correct information was being released.
  • Utilize facts to improve credibility. Walmart’s response included links to Walmart employees’ personal testimonials as well as previous studies. This keeps the situation from becoming a “he said, she said” debate.
  • Avoid appearing defensive. Coming off as defensive is never desirable. By adding humor to this piece, Walmart showed that they did not take the article too seriously and were merely attempting to correct the mistakes.
  • Push other positives about the company. Companies can take this opportunity to highlight any positive attributes that were not mentioned.  Walmart corrected information they felt was wrong, but also added other positives such as their focus on American manufacturing.
  • Take advantage of social media. Social media can be a company’s best friend when it comes to negative press.  Rather than relying on a press release or a letter to the editor to respond to accusations, posting on social media is an immediate way to get your opinion to the public.  Walmart’s blog post went viral, and they were able to quickly combat what was said about them.

The most important things to remember when responding to negative press are to remain credible by using facts, and to push the positives rather than being defensive. An appropriate post on a company’s social media site can often turn negative press into an opportunity for positive attention.

If you’re in healthcare, insurance, technology or other professional services industries, and need help with a PR, marketing or social media campaign, contact Scott Public Relations.

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