Five days ago everything was great. You look back on those days with a misty-eyed fondness now as days gone by that will never return. Back then, the media coverage of your business was always positive. Sales were improving and everything was looking up. It seemed like you could do no wrong.
What’s so different now, just five days later? A story broke that one of your warehouse managers may have harassed several workers. You’ve independently verified that nothing happened and the workers have even come forward to clear the air. However, nothing seems to settle the story down.
Is this fair? Not really. But the news is supposed to report what’s going on, and your company just happened to be in the crossfire. In a few days it’ll be somebody else entirely. Unfortunately all anyone will remember is the initial story. It’s your job to do what you can to fix any gaping holes left.
The media’s job isn’t to cater to any business. When it’s working right, the news is simply there to report whatever is happening in the world. If that happens to be a scandal in one of your warehouses, that’s what they report.
If that particular news outlet is really doing their job, then they’ll try to get the full story. They should’ve interviewed you, the warehouse manager, and the people accusing him of harassment. Since it was all cleared up, they also should’ve run a follow-up on the story updating how things turned out.
The problem is people don’t remember the follow-up story, nor do they often even see it. We generally catch the first part of a story (man arrested for murder) but if you don’t watch every single minute of the news you may miss the rest of the story (man released after charges dropped).
It’s not really the news outlet’s job to make sure every single person knows the full story, though. While there are some legitimate claims about today’s too-busy news world, it remains a fact that you shouldn’t expect fairness when a bomb drops.
The only thing you can do as a business owner in a situation like this is to figure out how to save face. You know the full story, or at least most of it, so you can start letting the public in on the truth. While the news may not be much more help, you can use the tools at your disposal to let everyone know what’s really going on.
Things will be hectic the first few weeks or months as you’ll constantly be bombarded with accusatory messages online. Don’t snap at these people – remember, they don’t know the full story!
For an example, a friend of mine owns a business that was bought out by a larger company whose former (and quite well-known) CEO had a less-than-stellar reputation. He had many of his customers drop him because of this buy-out, not realizing the company had totally changed leadership and rebranded entirely. My friend’s job was to convince everyone what the reality of the situation was and that nothing was going to change about the business service he provided. In the end that’s all you can really do.
Have you taken a hit from a false or misleading story before?
This article is written by Mickie Kennedy, founder of eReleases (http://www.ereleases.com), the online leader in affordable press release distribution. Grab three free ebooks, including the Big Press Release Book and Twitter Tactics, here: http://www.ereleases.com/insider/freebooks.html