Bring On The Hate

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    How a dose of negativity can help your organization

    The natural reaction for most people when they start seeing negative sentiment about their organization arise is panic. Do I respond? Do I duck and hide? And most of all…how bad is this going to hurt?

    Truth is, the more devoted your stakeholders are, the more flak you will take when you mess up, or at least are perceived to. In a PRDaily article, marketing expert and Georgetown U professor Rohit Bhargava shared his thoughts about how haters can help your business:

    1. Haters expose vulnerability. No business is perfect and haters sometimes have valid points. It requires an open mind to focus on the heart of a complaint and ignore the emotionally charged aspects. Doing so will hone in on the things you really need to fix and make your business stronger.

    2. Haters can be converted. There are many types of haters who may cross your path. The most frequent type isn’t the one who will passionately hate your business forever, but rather someone who has had a negative experience of some kind. If you can find a way to fix that experience and make it right, that same person can be transformed into your biggest advocate.

    3. Haters bring attention. Although I don’t believe “any publicity is good publicity,” the fact is that when you have people actively talking about how bad or pathetic your business is, it can add visibility. If you can find the right ways to counter the negativity, that attention can actually become a good thing.

    4. Haters publicize frequently asked questions. If you have a FAQ page on your website, you will realize the power that answering frequently asked questions can have for giving potential customers an idea not just of what you do … but also what you don’t do.

    5. Haters validate social media efforts. If you have been actively using social media, the goodwill that you may have built up with your fans and friends comes in handy when haters appear. The people you have invested time in building relationships with will often stick up for your brand and fight on your side.

    Just as we commonly say about crisis situations, strong organizations can actually turn negative attention into positive. Of course, all of this goes out the window if you aren’t actively moving to fix the problems that are bringing the hate in the first place. The overall reason that negative attention can be beneficial is that it gives you a way to demonstrate how much you care about your stakeholders. If you can’t convince them of that, you’re in trouble.

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    For more resources, see the Free Management Library topic: Crisis Management
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    [Jonathan Bernstein is president of Bernstein Crisis Management, Inc. , an international crisis management consultancy, and author of Manager’s Guide to Crisis Management and Keeping the Wolves at Bay – Media Training. Erik Bernstein is a writer, publicist and SEO associate for the firm, and also editor of its newsletter, Crisis Manager]