There is nothing worse than feeling like your company has been unfairly dragged through the mud for no good reason. If you feel that the media has unfairly represented your company in a news story, there are a number of ways to react and to minimize the damage it does to your reputation. The first thing you ought to do is to make sure you put your anger and resentment aside and make sure that you are approaching the situation with a level head. Angrily lashing out against the smear campaign against you and your business will only cause more harm than good.
Preventing the Problem Before it Happens
The best way to defend yourself against smear campaigns is to establish a positive image before anything goes wrong. One of the reasons public relations is a billion dollar industry is because it is so important to cultivate the proper image for your company. Integrity statements, mission statements and the like may not seem like an important priority compared to everything else your business has to deal with on a day to day basis. However should your company ever get accused of wrongdoing or poor ethics it is extremely helpful to be able to point to a mission statement proving your commitment to ethics and integrity. While it is certainly possible for companies to act in violation of their own mission or integrity statements, having a written commitment to a set of mission principles can and will show your commitment toward being an ethical company.
Actions Speak Louder than Words
It is equally important to back these written commitments to integrity and ethics up with actual actions that illustrate these practices. If your business has spent years of doing good for the local community, charities, or your customers, it will be a lot easier to discredit any of the negative claims made against you. You can use all of the good you have done in the past to serve as evidence to counteract the falsified claims of wrongdoing. While a dozen good deeds will not undo any mistakes you or your company have made, it can help to put things in perspective. Even if your company did make a mistake, you can show that the media is unfairly misrepresenting your business, using years of a positive actions as evidence to prove them wrong.
Consider Making a Legal Claim
If the media egregiously misrepresented you, your company, or one of your employees then you could potentially have grounds for a defamation or libel suit. If you feel that you have solid evidence to counteract the claims that have been made against you, then you may be able to go after the publication and file a lawsuit against them. Such cases can be difficult to prove, however if you feel that you have been unfairly misrepresented in print, it may be worth investigating. You can speak to a lawyer to see if you have strong enough evidence to potentially win your case.
Focus on Doing Good
Even if the media hits you with a smear campaign that attempts to discredit your reputation, that doesn’t mean people will automatically believe it. Trust in your loyal customers and remain committed to the positive and charitable efforts of your company. Double your efforts into giving back to either charity, your customers, or the local community. Most people will be quick to forget about the stories they read in the paper or watch on TV. Try to publicize your efforts to do good and give back to the community and you will go a long way to rebuilding your reputation.
No company wants to be unfairly misrepresented by the media, but it unfortunately does happen. Be proactive and try to establish strong public relations before anything goes wrong. You can also fight the claims made against you either in your own media campaign or in the courts. Finally, be willing to put in the effort to rebuild a positive reputation. Before you know it the stories will have blown over, hopefully with very little damage to your company’s public image.