How brands should deal with negativity in the media

Concerning situation, canceling, reputational crisis. How to tell these apart and react to similar cases, and whether it is worth reacting at all - the CEO of the LOOQME media monitoring service, Oksana Kononova, and the reputation and anti-crisis advisor Serhii Bidenko discuss online.

Serhii is a co-author of the book "Reputational Antistress", one of the chapters is about the correct setting and use of media and social media monitoring - which was prepared by LOOQME. We have collected for you the most interesting points from the conversation (UA).

How to distinguish between hate comments and crisis?

Hate comments are mostly a situational phenomenon that concerns B2C companies. If this is not a trend but rather a one-time situation that does not harm the health or well-being of people, an acknowledgment of the problem and a formal apology may be sufficient. Do not engage in a lengthy dialogue. After all, each answer continues the discussion cycle, with more people becoming actively involved. At the same time, most of them do not count on meaningful outcomes, as they only need to express an emotion.

When should you start worrying?

When we talk of monitoring, it is worth tracking how long the activity around the scandal lasts. There are usually many posts on the first day, but then their number declines. It indicates that the problem is minor and there is little to do about it.

However, even in such situations, brands must become involved in the work. For a systemic company building a product brand, HR brand, and corporate culture, even single situational negativity is a reason to check the processes inside the business.

For example, a chain of grocery stores involved in a food poisoning case or found to be selling expired goods. It may be a one-off situation, but it signals a failure in the process: someone made a mistake, and there was a communication problem. Each such situation is indicative of a larger-scale issue.

Any company experiences its share of negativity. Even more, it is strange if there is none, especially if it is a B2C business. Therefore, the company should have a person who monitors negative mentions.

You can set up keyword monitoring or track feedback on "weak spots". These can be employee-related issues, a controversial figure in the ownership structure, etc. Some things are worth reacting to, and some are not. You should respond not to lead a discussion, but so that certain information you need remains in the public field.

Social media monitoring guide: targets and objectives

Reputational crisis: how to understand that it is just getting started

The reputational crisis starts to spread in many channels, not only on social media, as it reaches stakeholders at different levels and in various media.

To monitor the crisis, you need to know the usual daily number of mentions of your company. If it has increased several times, it is worth paying attention to it. For medium and small brands, retrospectives may not be enough, so you should follow similar companies and cases.

Besides the numbers, pay attention to whether influencers are involved in covering the story. One or two bloggers with a large audience can do much damage. In addition, you should be aware of the publications of small influencers who are experts in a narrow niche.

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Should you react?

If reputable media spreads negative mentions about you, you need to react. Your response should be balanced and devoid of emotion. You need to understand the challenge of changing the audience’s opinion.

You can respond to accusations in different ways. For example, give an interview to a reputable mass media and explain the position, or publish a series of videos on Instagram and TikTok. Sometimes, it is worth waiting before reacting so as not to trigger a new wave of discussion.

It is necessary to bring the conflict to a non-public level as soon as possible. A simple rebuttal does not work well. You can block out the negativity with other info breaks or attract small influencers who inspire more trust than bloggers with millions of followers. Currently, TikTok has great potential, even for complex topics.

There is no magic pill for getting out of the crisis. Depending on the budget, context, and team, you need to combine standard and new methods. The best outcome is when it is not just a resolved negativity, but when communication moves to a new narrative, which helps you build something new and beneficial for the company.

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