How to Handle Nasty PR

There must be a full moon – even though it’s 10 AM on a Sunday morning.

I have had phenomenal luck with my marketing/public relations campaign.  During the past year I have been quoted in well over 100 publications.  On occasion I am contacted by individuals wanting advice.  It’s not something I do professionally, but I am happy to answer questions.  Two such e-mails greeted me this morning.  I wrote back that I would respond in a blog posting.

The first person, a woman from Florida, let’s call her Mary, was accused by a customer of not having fulfilled her commitments.  If you are lucky, there are only three sides to every story.  No doubt there is enough blame to go around.  Getting into an argument is not, however, a good idea.

Mary wanted to know if I could get her an interview with a reporter in her home state.  I’ve been quoted in a number of Florida publications, thus her question.

The reason for my PR success is that I don’t go to reporters and pitch stories to them; they send questions to me through the website  In any case, even if I wanted to pitch stories, I would not pitch this one.  Mary should not escalate.  Her customer wrote what he wrote on his website which, I doubt, anyone reads outside of his personal friends. My advice is simply to post a comment, if he permits comments on his blog, expressing regret that he is dissatisfied and encouraging him to contact her to see how they can work things out.  If he calls, and it’s a big “if,” Mary should insist that, when everything is worked out, that he post a positive update on his blog.  If he does not permit comments on his blog, Mary might want to highlight on her website her customer service policy.

The other individual, let’s call him Michael, was also attacked on a blog that actually has readership.  The owner of the blog does everything anonymously.  This one is easy:  Never respond to an anonymous attack.   Serious people know that persons who hide behind anonymity, whether they use a pseudonym or not, lack the courage of their convictions.  They want to feel important and the way they feel important is to get someone else to respond to them.  The worst thing that can happen to an anonymous attacker is to ignore him.  “You are not important.  You are not worth my time.  You do not matter.”  That is the message that is sent by silence.

Of course, if any critic crosses the line and defames or slanders, legal action is always required.  You don’t want to establish a precedent where people think it is alright to lie about you, slander you, or defame you. ( In such a case, only hire an attorney on contingency.)   But that’s not what Mary and Michael are dealing with.  In the former case it is someone who may honestly feel, albeit wrongly, that he has been cheated.  In the latter, it’s a sad case of a person who seeks publicity at other people’s expense.  The first should, if possible, be placated; the latter should be pitied.