PR Disasters You Can Avoid Today

Every few days I read something online where some business ran into trouble in areas where they really shouldn’t have. It always seems like some simple issue that gets blown out of proportion. If the company had just some simple PR training they could’ve avoided the situation entirely.

Luckily, these situations don’t have to happen to you. With a few simple tips you can avoid some of the most common PR disasters that occur every day. In fact, some of these you may have seen out “in the wild” yourself. Don’t let your company be the one on the front page next time!

Not Following Through 

Giving out free stuff is a great way to get long term customers. You hand over some of your stuff, they love it, they sign up for more. What better way to stir up interest and positive talk about your company than to road test the product itself?

However, this can backfire, just like a case I saw the other day. A company went on Reddit and offered a deal for “a million free samples.” The offer was not supposed to have any strings attached. Initial reviews came in and everything seemed like it was going well.

Then it all changed. People were saying they were getting charged when they weren’t supposed to. One user even had multiple transactions and had to completely cancel their card. Customer service was a nightmare and nobody could get any help.

If you don’t follow up on your promises, you’re not going to make it very far. If you’re not prepared to offer “a million free samples,” don’t say you can. If you do, eat the consequences of overshooting the moon, or you risk failure.

Running Away

Honestly, the miscommunication (or just sheer lack of) was what drove everyone craziest about the aforementioned debacle. If the company had just come out and said “look, we messed up, here’s what to do” or at least given SOME sign they were taking care of things, it would’ve been better. Instead, Facebook messages are ignored, customer service wait times were abominable, and email replies were useless.

You can’t just run away from your problems. Once the company realized they were way out of their league, they should’ve gone into recovery mode. Ignoring requests and messages doesn’t really convey to the world you’re taking your business seriously.

The worst part? By all accounts, they have a real product that could make some real bucks. It’s kind of a shame half the world thinks they’re nothing but a scam because of a failed promotion on Reddit.

But that’s what happens when you don’t have a plan. This company had the best problem possible: they were growing too quickly. Suddenly, it turned on them. If you have a plan and keep a cool head, your PR will be just fine.

What would you have done to recover if you were in this company’s shoes?

This article is written by Mickie Kennedy, founder of eReleases (, the online leader in affordable press release distribution. Download a free copy of the PR Checklist – a 24 point list of Press Release Dos and Don’ts here:

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