Nancy MyrlandAll Posts, Social Media 6 Comments

Social Media: Are You Prepared For Negative Publicity?You’re ready, right?

Everything’s under control, isn’t it?

You’re about to watch a firestorm of negative publicity hit because of something you didn’t even mean to do, but you aren’t worried, right?

It could be anything…

  • Your recent merger is falling apart at the seams, and blogs are swelling with excitement.
  • You just had your entire Intellectual Property Team leave for Big Firm LLP down the street, and it’s all over Twitter.
  • Someone in the firm just posted a photo from a firm event on Facebook that shows your client in a less than positive light, and it’s being shared.
  • One of your partners was just pulled in on a DUI last night, and LinkedIn seems to know about it before you do.
  • You could slip up like clothing brand Kenneth Cole, and say something unnecessarily callous in Social Media.

You and I could think of 50 different situations that might occur in your firm that could cause trouble for you in the public eye. We might consider one or two probable, a few possible, some remotely possible, some that would fall in to the “there’s no way” category, and some that would cause us to look at each other and shake our heads in disbelief.

Now we’re making progress!

Why? Because we’re talking about it.  We’re sitting around a table, on Skype, in a Google+ Hangout, or on the phone, planning strategy for what you should do if any of these happen to your firm.

Yesterday, my friend, Gini Dietrich, CEO of Arment Dietrich, a talented PR and Social Media strategist, wrote an excellent blog post titled Is All Publicity Good? on her Spin Sucks blog.  You really should take a few minutes to read it.

Gini’s bottom line, with which I wholeheartedly agree, is:

“Not all publicity is good for you, for your business, or for your community.”

One of the most important points Gini makes is this:

“Sure, not all news will be good news. Even the best companies will have some negative things written about them, but it’s in how you respond that makes, or breaks, the game.”

Another friend, Bill Dorman, Principal with insurance and risk management firm, Lanier Upshaw, asked how one should handle the kind of negative publicity that can ultimately take them under, and acknowledged that hindsight is much clearer than foresight.

I added my two, okay maybe four, cents to the discussion by adding:

“You can’t necessarily control it [the firestorm of bad publicity], but you can be smarter in the first place by thinking through what is being said in your firm, by training everyone about what has the potential to cause damage, come up with solutions, then train again and again and again, and then ten times more.”

Because of Social Media, positive and negative messages have the ability to spread like wildfire.

We are all vulnerable, but we can’t avoid it by ignoring Social Media.  As long as others have these communication tools at their disposal, we have no choice but to join them, and make good use of them.

It’s time to prepare.

It’s time to talk strategy with your Marketing, Social Media and Public Relations advisors.

It’s time to deal with all the what-ifs, even if you never need to employ the tactics suggested.

Then it’s time to continuously train those people who have any responsibility for dealing with human beings, then train them again, and again, and again.


Thanks Gini Dietrich and Bill Dorman for contributing to this post!

Thanks to Victor1558 for use of his photo under Creative Commons license.