Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Negative Publicity & Bad Press: Coping as a Small Business

negative publicity
With limited resources, small business owners face the unique challenges of avoiding bad press coverage and handling negative publicity. These challenges can seem daunting, but managing them isn’t as hard as you think.

Preparing ahead of time makes all the difference when limiting bad press. Simple steps can be taken to lower your risk of receiving undesirable media attention. In this day and age social media gives everybody a voice, and even the smallest businesses are likely to receive negative publicity. Learning how to deal with this is critical to your livelihood and longevity.

Bad Press

negative publicityFake news. We’ve seen a lot of it lately, and for a small company it can be absolutely devastating. When it comes to bad press coverage, being ahead of the curve is crucial. Having a policy in place for social media usage is key. Training your employees in media relations is necessary. Every employee has a voice that can negatively or positively impact your business.

Be forward thinking. Instead of allowing bad press to occur, generate your own good press. Go into the community and present what your business has to offer. Share the positive and progressive values which you represent. 

Word of mouth is also a great resource for small businesses with a limited marketing budget. The idea here is to turn your customers into brand ambassadors who will promote your brand to their networks. 

Negative Publicity


negative publicity
Whoever came up with the saying “There’s no such thing as bad publicity,” probably wasn’t a small business owner. Large firms like Volkswagen or United Airlines have faced a boatload of negative publicity recently. And they’ve been able to bounce back from this with relative ease due to their extensive customer service and marketing budgets. Small companies simply do not have these luxuries, and must use alternative, more cost effective methods to cope with negative publicity.

Used well, social media can be a primary tool for representing your company and responding to customer complaints. Today, over 81% of Americans have a social media presence. This is an over 3x increase from ten years ago, and this huge market can be tapped for little to no cost. Spreading your message through social media content or low-cost paid ads are proactive ways to generate good publicity. However, as a business owner you’re likely to face some sort of backlash online. Knowing how to deal with this is very important.

Be Responsive


negative publicityWhen it comes to responding to negative publicity on social media, you must learn how to distinguish genuine criticism and complaints from trolls trying to get a reaction. If the issue is not very serious no response is necessary, but that doesn’t mean not responding is the best option. Not responding won’t actively bring negative publicity to your company, but negative comments from customers can spread like a wildfire online. And speaking of fire, you don’t want to start a flame war with a customer. If you’re going to respond be decisive, transparent, and have the customer’s interests in mind first and foremost. Your response to it is a great opportunity to show the world what your company’s really about.

As a business owner, bad press and publicity can be difficult. Being prepared and knowing how to respond is essential in order to avoid a PR nightmare. 

For more information about dealing with bad press and negative social media experiences, contact Spotlight Publicity for a free consultation today.

We love your feedback and comments- please share your experiences with positive and negative publicity in the comments below.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Small Business Survival During Tough Times

food truck
Every company goes through rough times now and then - it's a fact of a credit-based economy. Small business survival during tough times depends on staying focused, making informed and logical decisions and staying creative within the bounds of your business plan. Whether the issue is receding cash flow, staffing issues or a spate of bad business choices, remaining calm and patient will see you through to better times.

To succeed, review the following best practices and take the appropriate steps. An adjustment here and a change of habit there can do a world of good, as long as you focus on the future when making short terms decisions.

Be Patient

Positive change doesn't happen over night, just as negative trends in your market don't last forever. Before making any adjustments to your business strategy, ensure that they are required. Sometimes, forces beyond your control are at play and will soon pass. Be calm and collected in order to analyze the situation before taking steps to correct it.

Speak with employees, advisors and peers in the community to gain a larger picture of the situation. Should you determine change is required, make them methodically and consciously. Know how they will effect your business not only in the present, but in the future. Don't make decisions that will come back to haunt you such as selling vital infrastructure or reducing hiring requirements.

Strive For New Business

All solid business plans call for the regular acquisition of new clients, but in tough times small business survival often means generating new revenue on a stepped-up scale. Look to professional networking opportunities, referrals and old-fashioned foot work to revitalize your bottom line. Tough times means getting out there and making things happen- don't sit back with crossed fingers hoping luck will save your company. Small business survival means going out and doing the work.
Look to these types of organizations for much needed connections:
  • Local Chamber of Commerce- Hosts various events to showcase local businesses and often sponsors networking events to support local member businesses.
  • BNI - Business Networking International is a large, formalized and international membership group driven to help it's members succeed.
  • An online social networking platform designed to bring group meetings together based on common threads.
  • Google it- Quite simply, a Google search for networking events in your area could turn up a hundred or more gatherings, sponsored by a wide variety of players in your community. Everything from industry-specific meetings to affiliation events are at your fingertips with only a few strokes of the keyboard.
  • One on One Meetings- What's stopping you from networking on a small scale with those in your business park, office or town? 
Remember- with networking, commonalities are what make connections.

Social Media & Small Business Survival

social media
Staying relevant in your sector means staying relevant with your customers. Though they may not require your services daily or even monthly, keeping your brand in front of them is critical. Revisit your social media strategy to continue to provide quality information and opportunities for your customers. Don't slack off. If the concept is new to your small business, consider having a reliable social media guide on hand to assist.

Social media posts should be a mix of 1/3 sales pitch, 1/3 niche news and 1/3 pertinent content such as videos and articles- share news articles your clients would find useful or entertaining. Post updates on your products. Sponsor contests. Engage with your feedback and take steps to adjust as your clients needs change. Stay on top of what your demographic needs and you will foster an audience that is receptive to direct marketing- coupons, sales alerts and promotions. Give your clients a reason to follow you.

Use LinkedIn to write original blog articles about your industry and share relevant posts with your audience. There is a caveat, however- LinkedIn isn't a place to advertise directly for business. Instead, it's a place where your expertise is on view. If you are providing value to an audience on LinkedIn, you will see business resulting from your activity.

As a general rule, keep your social media pages and your website up to date. A weekly review of what information you have available would be a chance to provide the latest news or events to attract customers. Your accounts are living netizens in a sense. Make sure they act like it.

Outside the Small Business Box Thinking


big fish little pond
Look to the micro-economy for ways to incorporate sales volume into your business. No two businesses are alike, and reaching out to those in your niche to cross promote products and services can help breath new life into your business plan.

Keep an eye out for businesses that aren't in direct competition with you and schedule a meeting. Be straight forward and keep mutual benefits in mind- these connections have customers who need the services and goods you provide, while existing customers may benefit from your new relationships.

It's time to work hard and keep an eye on the future. For more information, or to schedule your free consultation, contact us at Spotlight Publicity.