How to deal with negative press coverage

02.04.19 Negative press

With so much emphasis now placed on social media and digital marketing, sometimes things can go askew. Someday you, your organisation or both may find themselves attacked from all sides by negative public attention. Whether it’s an ill-timed tweet or negative feedback from customers, the way you handle a negative story can make all the difference. 

Here are our tips to help limit the damage:

If you’re at fault, apologise

If your company has made a mistake, admit it and offer a prompt and sincere apology. Ignoring the issue will only make things worse, and more than likely such negligence will only gain further attention. Take responsibility and avoid evasive language such as “We’re sorry if anyone was offended.” Take steps to fix the situation or make amends.


Don’t hide. In many cases, a lack of response will be seen as a validation of the criticisms and only allows for rumours and exaggerations to occur. The sooner the response, the better and easier it will be to control the situation. Understandably, a speedy reaction can be difficult. In a high-stakes situation where the facts are unclear, say so, but discredit untruths and pledge to provide supporting information as quickly as possible.

Don’t overreact

It’s natural to feel emotional or even use defensive language when attacked, particularly if things get personal. Be objective. If you can’t be objective (it can be hard when it’s your business), seek unbiased advice.

Use objective facts and figures 

A convincing response usually involves statistics or objective facts and cites sources. Where possible, quote third parties. Corporate recognition, ratings and recommendations can be useful in making your case.

Look for the opportunities 

Public criticism can be a gift in disguise. Think about whether it could be an opportunity to remedy a problem or improve your business offering. If appropriate, thank your critics, and take advantage of the attention to highlight how you will remedy the issue.


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