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Taking Action: Dealing with Negative Press

Will Armstrong *

Armstrong Public Relations *

As a Public Relations Executive, one of the most challenging situations that clients face is negative press. It can be incredibly daunting and frustrating to navigate, even for the most experienced professionals. However, after years of working in the industry, I can confidently say that there is a way forward. In this blog post, I will share my advice for clients involved in negative press and how to take immediate action to address the situation.

The first step when dealing with negative press is to take responsibility. I remember one of my first conversations with my mentor Howard Bragman. He said, “Denying or equivocating will only prolong the issue and harm your reputation further. It is essential to own up to the mistake and offer a sincere apology.” Your apology should reflect that you understand the gravity of the situation, demonstrate empathy for those affected, and acknowledge the damage caused.

In tandem with the apology, you should also provide a public plan outlining how the issue will be mitigated and fixed. The public needs to have confidence that you are taking the necessary steps to address the issue and prevent it from happening again. The plan should be clear, concise, and transparent. It also helps to have a designated point person responsible for handling questions, monitoring feedback, and providing updates.

Follow-up proof that you have taken steps to address the issue can also be helpful in rebuilding trust with stakeholders and the public. This can include documentation, evidence of progress, and testimonials from those affected. The goal is to demonstrate that you take the situation seriously, and you are actively working to make things right.

Another important aspect of dealing with negative press is adopting the right tone. It is essential to stay away from being defensive. This was clearly demonstrated recently by Gwyneth Paltrow when she testified on the stand in her recent ski collision trial. Gwyneth spoke with confidence and conviction while remaining sincere and attentive. It can also be helpful to identify opportunities to show your values, highlight your positive contributions, and demonstrate your commitment to ethical behavior.

Lastly, it is essential to remain committed to the process. Dealing with negative press takes time, effort, and patience. As a PR Executive, I remind my clients that there are no shortcuts to repairing their reputation. However, if they are willing to take responsibility, listen to feedback, communicate transparently, and continuously improve, they can emerge from the situation stronger and better.

Dealing with negative press can be a difficult and stressful experience. However, taking immediate action to address the situation is crucial. As a PR Executive, my advice to clients involved in negative press is to take responsibility for their actions, offer a public plan outlining how the issue will be mitigated and fixed, and provide follow-up proof that they are taking steps to address the issue. It is also important to adopt the right tone and remain committed to the


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