Sunday, January 22, 2017

"What's The Worst That Could Happen?" PR Disasters And What To Do About Them

James Brady is the head of marketing at the small business finance firm, Hiscox. Recently, he’s been asking “what’s the worst that could happen?” in the world of business, especially when it comes to PR. 

Being in a business that lends money to small businesses and agencies, he knows a thing or two about companies who put their foot in it. Here are some of his top reasons why companies experience PR disasters. 

Over-Promising And Under-Delivering 

Small businesses tend to be an anxious bunch. They’re often dependent on a small group of people to provide them with the money that they need to survive. According to Brady, this means that they are desperate to stand out from the crowd. When pitching to clients, companies will be very aggressive with pricing and deadlines to make sure that they have an advantage over the competition.


Brady says that this is a bad idea for a couple of reasons. The first is that failing to deliver work that clients are satisfied with can destroy the reputation of your business overnight. Sure, you might have a lot of orders coming in now, but word can quickly get around that your business isn’t able to carry out a high-quality service. The other problem, Brady says, occurs when agencies make a generic PR pitch to their clients. Not only is this not ideal from a business point of view, but it can also backfire spectacularly if the client gets angry. Brady’s advice? Be honest with the customer about what you can deliver and by when. 

Allowing A Personal Drama To Turn Into A Social Media Meltdown 

Social media is now to go-to channel for customers to talk to you about your product. In some industries, like the gaming industry, this conversation is usually productive, with customers seeing social media as a way to work with the company to improve the product. But in many industries, this conversation is more adversarial. The problem comes when people on social media all start agreeing that your service isn’t that good and a critical mass builds up that effectively buries your online reputation.


Solutions, like Chatmeter review management platform for agencies, help companies to keep tabs on everything that is being said about their brand online. This is helpful since it allows businesses to respond quickly whenever a negative article is posted. It’s also useful on the flipside: to promote the positive things that people have to say about your business. One hotel soon went viral on social media, after a happy customer posted a review about how the hotel staff had helped her find her son’s favorite soft toy and started posting on social media, pictures of the toy enjoying an extended stay at the hotel. 

Avoid Hashtag Problems 

If you’re working with a particular group of companies or clients, it’s a good idea to make sure that the things that you say are aligned with their values. One of the problems that small businesses can run into is saying things on their own social media accounts that their partners vehemently oppose. Brady points to mistakes made by Delta Airlines when it came to their Ghana flights advertising.

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