There are many things that can go wrong for a business when marketing and selling its products, and negative publicity is near the top of the list. Criticism tends to be more memorable than praise. When factoring in the ability to receive nearly unlimited information from the internet and improved capability to share information through social media, “bad news” travels faster and has more of an audience than before.
If your business has been around for a while, chances are high that you have received bad publicity at some point, in some form. Bad publicity is often unavoidable. You might be wondering, as one of AIM’s clients did, how to respond to negative press in a way that puts your company in a more favorable light.
AIM’s client faced negative publicity in the form of an article and letter in a trade publication. The client was concerned that the negative review would harm market perception and reduce use of its product.
Before developing a counterattack with the client, AIM recommended a quick research survey to determine (1) what percentage of the audience read the article and (2) whether the article had influenced willingness to use the product. In addition to providing information on the effect of the negative publicity, the survey would track the overall awareness and perception of the client’s product over time.
AIM structured a one-page survey to a random sample of 3,000 professionals to learn more about their familiarity with the client’s product and identify which factors were most important in their selection of the product. In addition, the research would help uncover any particular issues or concerns.
This AIM research project had a response rate of over 12.1%—compared to the industry average response of 5%-10%—with 342 completed surveys. The research indicated that the majority (71%) of the audience did not see the negative press about the client’s product. Of the people who did see the article, only 18% actually read it. In addition, the research indicated the negative publicity had little or no impact on market use or specification of the product.
AIM then provided the client with specific recommendations on changes to their communications strategy that would have a long-term positive impact on the market’s awareness and perceptions of the product.
Negative publicity is not the end of the world; a measured and well-informed response can make all the difference. Is your business dealing with negative publicity? AIM can help!