What We Can Learn from the PR Mistakes of Other Brands

pr mistake 01.10.19

Public relations is often known as an industry that monitors and manages brand reputation and steps in whenever there is a misstep. Unfortunately, making a PR mistake is fairly commonplace, and other brands can often learn from the mistakes that others make. Adjusting a public relations strategy according to what others have done is one way to help prevent problems in the future.

Handling a mistake can make or break the success of a brand, especially if that mistake is one that many consumers are aware of. For this reason, managing the spread of information is one of the biggest challenges that public relations professionals face. Particularly in today’s age of rapidly spreading information — correct or not — this can be quite a task for even the most seasoned professional.

By taking care to pay attention to the happenings around the industry and the actions that other brands are taking can help in the event of a misstep on the account of a client that now needs assistance in navigating the turnaround.

Take the example of a restaurant that experiences a rash of negative reviews. The popular review platform, Yelp!, is one place where consumers like to go to share their opinions or their experiences with local businesses. How a business handles a negative review is often a lesson for the rest of the brands in that industry.

Let’s say that a restaurant has a customer write a scathing review. The restaurant has two options: engage or ignore. Most often, engaging with the customer, taking responsibility, and apologizing for any mistakes is a good way to repair a damaged relationship. However, stooping to the customer’s level and engaging in attacks, condescending tone, or disrespect can backfire. Taking the high road is most often the best choice, but taking care to observe these interactions can help set a standard for the best way to handle disgruntled customers.

Managing the spread of information also comes into play, and there are lessons to be learned from the experiences of other brands in this area too. For example, not every negative message will spread, and sometimes going in and engaging the purveyor of that message may actually draw more unwanted attention to the issue. Having the wherewithal to determine whether or not the issue must be “dealt with” is one way that public relations professionals can make the most of managing any mistakes and increasing their clients’ reputation scores.

In some cases, a brand may make a mistake that can be immensely difficult to recover from. A clothing brand recently released a line of sweatshirts that were intended to commemorate the victims of school shootings around the country. The fallout from this ill-informed decision is yet to be seen, but how a brand handles a misstep is often the determining factor of its ongoing success.

Public relations professionals who monitor the industry and the actions of brands can take these lessons back to the drawing board when they’re managing their own client portfolio. Lessons in “what not to do” can often be highly valuable in an industry in which the public is watching every single move.


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