You are here

HOW TO: avoid a PR disaster

If so, you’ll understand how important it is for a business to hang out with the right crowd and not the unreliable businesses who steal everyone else’s lunch money.

From a marketing perspective, letting clients cosy up to dodgy clients will lead to more than you being shunned at the cool kid’s lunch table – it could be a PR disaster.

Just think about it – how can you spin marketing gold if your business has cozied up to a band of shysters, charlatans and slackers?

And once you’ve been tarred with the bad business brush, wiping away the dirt can be near impossible.

So what kind of companies should you stay away from to avoid a PR nightmare?

Mail me happy

This November, the Guardian reported a complaint from one unhappy Ikea shopper. After ordering some flat pack furniture, she duly awaited her parcel’s delivery. But to her dismay the delivery drivers couldn’t be bothered to find her address, and tried to charge her £60 for redelivery.

Cue a screed of similar quibbles in the comments section under the article – plenty of people won’t be ordering from Ikea anytime soon.

Whether you’re sending a parcel to USA or Timbuktu, research the company you’re outsourcing to for reliable service. You’ll avoid dodgy customer reviews in the papers and lost customers.

Environmental snafus

Back in October, environmental charity Green Peace blew a hole in LEGO’s PR hull by creating a video mocking their partnership with oil giants Shell. Quicker than you could construct a LEGO Millennium Falcon, the toy company severed ties with Shell – but the damage was already done.

Eco issues are like a red rag to some members of the public so, to avoid a backlash, wash your hands of ANY companies harming the planet.

Apolitical profits

Whether your boss is a liberal hippy with flowers in their hair or a monocle-wearing aristocrat who views poor people in the same light as irritating bluebottles, try to dissuade them from overt political connections.

The number of companies who have turned political and lost screeds of customers is countless, but the Scottish independence debate flings up a load of prominent examples.

The Confederation of Business Industry (CBI), a large group representing business interests, managed to stir up controversy when it decided to support the union without consulting its members, losing support from businesses and the general public. From a PR perspective, it was an ill-advised move that alienated companies.

Politics is a losing game for most, and makes the job of the marketer that bit harder.

So – if you fall into one of these PR traps, how can you dig your way out?

Well, eventually even the dodgiest partnership will be forgotten. The best you can do, bar sending out a grovelling apology to the press, is to keep providing positive customer experience and allow quality to market itself.