Ambercrombie and Fitch made marketing news last week when they announced that they’d paid Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino from Jersey Shore to NOT wear their products. They apparently felt that Sorrentino’s behavior on the MTV reality show would negatively impact their brand, with a definite “This is NOT our target market” vibe.
While you may not be able to pay off purveyors of your products or services with whom you don’t agree, what can you do about negative endorsements (aka publicized complaints)?
First, be aware of what’s out there about your business. Constant research and vigilance online using services such as Google Alerts or Twitter can keep you up to the minute on mentions of your company’s name or products.
If you become aware of a negative mention of your product or service, the faster you take action, the better. Having a pre-prepared emergency PR plan is the most effective solution, allowing you to respond instantly with the right resources. Getting to the root of the situation (a faulty product, a poorly handle customer care situation, or a billing mix up) and approval of a remedy (replacement products, a genuine apology, or refund of charges) should be done quickly.
The final step is communicating as quickly as possible to the complainer AND the general audience. Without breaking any confidentiality, reaching out to the complainer in a personal but publically acceptable way and perhaps posting the resolution through your other channels to get the word out can defuse the situation as quickly as possible.