Rumors about your company can be one of the biggest marketing setbacks. They can lead to a bad reputation and loss of a customer base, and most importantly, can be difficult to recover from. Even the biggest and most established brands are vulnerable to rumors spreading, with businesses like Wendy’s and Toyota experiencing damages of up to $21 million and $5.5 billion respectively, according to Business Pundit. As there’s nothing you can actively do to avoid rumors starting, what can be done to confront the rumors in a quick and effective way to minimize damages? Let’s take a look at three quick tips to handle rumors spreading.
1. Address the Rumor
When there is a rumour spreading and plenty of negative talk about your brand, avoiding the topic can be detrimental to your business. The first thing you should be doing is addressing the rumor head on as this allows your company to take control of the situation and negate some of the false statements spreading. Whether you address the rumor by denying it or trying a method of re-association, in which you make the rumor look positive, ensuring your company has an opinion is vital to ensuring the statements don’t get out of hand. Try being thorough in your assertions by spreading it on numerous platforms, including press conferences, social media, blogs and print media — any place you think your customer will see the rumor they should also be able to see your rebuttal.
2. Understand Your Audience
Before you can communicate with your audience about the rumor, you need to first understand your audience. How do they perceive the rumor? What is it that upsets them most about the rumor? What do they value most in your brand? What expectations do they have of your company? By researching in detail your audience and their reaction to the rumor, you will be to address it most effectively. Amway Education, a program that discusses successful business methods, highlights the importance of understanding your customer, citing language, researching across cultures and listening as key elements. Amway also discusses how vital it is to be aware of what your customers’ expectations of you are and the standards that you need to uphold, as you will then have the chance to display these messages to receive a better response. You will also be able to individualize your response to different audience groups and thus increase your chances of reaching people.
3. Focus on Promoting Positive Company Traits
One of the main characteristics of a rumor is that they tend to spiral out of control, with each rumor adding on to another. To avoid the negative statements multiplying, take control of the situation by infiltrating the market with positive company attributes. Take the understanding you have of your audience and use marketing and PR tools to promote the aspects of your brand that you know your customers love. Not only does this remind them about your brands original reputation but it means time is being spent reading about positive traits, which can often lead customers to question the validity of the rumors in the first place.
Despite your brands strong marketing efforts, rumors being spread can set your business back both in reputation and monetary value. If you are ever faced with this unfortunate situation, try following these three quick tips to minimize damage and get back on your feet quickly.