What happens when it all goes wrong? Emergency PR

The product you sell has a glitch? You have a disgruntled customer who is upset about their experience? The customer takes to social media…. Misinformation is streaming around the social realm… What do you do?

It’s hard in these situations not become too involved and take it personally. Most of the time these are misunderstandings, when not resolved quickly, can take on a turn for the worst.

First things first…

Mistakes happen… breathe. You only have a short time to make the right decision, so take a breath and try and take out the emotion.


call someone not emotionally involved or someone with PR experience to help guide you. Sometimes you will never resolve the issue with the disgruntled individual, but the way you deal with it is important. Sometimes is as important to show other customers that you are responsive to their customer’s needs.


try and take the conversation off line and even ask to call the person and LISTEN to what they have to say. They are upset for a reason and need to feel heard.


offer a resolution. It might not be what the resolution they want, but showing that you care enough to offer and that you listened is often enough to calm the seas.

So what happens if you emotionally converse and defend your side of the story without listening?


Let me tell you an incident that happened last year. This was not our client, but we saw the incident unfold.

We’ll keep names of businesses out of this one, so we shall call the business X and Customer A. Business X has a misunderstanding with a customer A and when speaking with them got quite heated in the discussion. The customer A went home and took to social media to make a complaint on their Facebook page. Business X continued to defend its position instead of trying to take the conversation off line, listen and come to a resolution. The customer A’s emotions ran even higher and then she took her complaint (with her view on it) to social media groups, Facebook and any other way to get herself heard.

The troops rallied around after hearing her story and soon Business A had tens of people writing negative reviews, writing on their facebook business page and sharing the story of the customer’s story. Whether or not the story was all true is irrelevant. The damage is done, it was around the social media realm for all to see. Negative reviews are not able to be removed from social media platforms, so they really affect the online reputation of a business.

It’s a mistake that anyone can make when they are emotionally involved and it’s a costly one. So the moral of the story is if you can’t take the emotion out when an emergency PR issue arises, then get someone involved who can. The cost of hiring a person to help contain and find a resolution to an issue is much less than the potential loss of future business.

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