Whether you’re a college or a business or just a normal ol’ human, no one is exempt from reputation defamation on the Internet. It could be an honest complaint from a dissatisfied customer, or it could be a disgruntled ex-business partner. Either way, figuring out the right way to handle negative reviews or defamation on the internet can be tricky.
So what do you do when someone bashes your company on Facebook or writes a mean Yelp review?
There are several ways of dealing with negative comments on the Internet. Here are some do’s and don’ts.
Don’t ignore it. Think about the assumptions that come along with someone saying, “No comment,” or “I choose not to speak about this matter.” Ignoring rude comments or complaints is essentially doing the same thing. Pleading the fifth is rarely the way out of trouble, and it’s not just going to go away. So, be careful about dismissing criticism without taking action.
Do address it. Nothing makes me smile like seeing a company openly and kindly apologize for their mistakes. Offer an apology, and direct the Unhappy Keyboard Fiend to someone that can deal with their problem in a personal and empathetic way. It could look something like this: “Dear Fired-up Fred, We are so sorry to hear about your unpleasant experience with our company. Please contact Helpful Hannah at (555)-ILL-HELP. We’d love to speak with you and help you in any way that we can. Thanks!”
Don’t place blame. At Verge Pipe Media, we like to say, “Nothing at Verge Pipe Media is somebody else’s problem.” If you see a negative comment, and know it’s not about you, address it anyway. Don’t deny it, and don’t blame it on someone else. Your company, your business, your college is one unit. Everyone has to work together to keep the machine running.
Do ask them to remove the negative content. This one is tricky. If there’s a customer complaint, that’s one thing. But if you’re being brutally bashed, that’s another. One way to save your well-deserved reputation is by asking whoever wrote the content to remove it. This can be done in a friendly, non-aggressive way. If the person refuses, you can take further action by hiring an attorney to send a cease and desist letter.
Do ask the website to take it down. If the comment or review is libelous or crude, you can contact the website and ask them to remove it. Most sites don’t allow defamatory content, and they will happily remove anything that fits into that category.
Don’t lose your cool. The worst thing you can do for your business is react inappropriately to bad reviews or defamation. Take a few breaths, write a response, and wait 15 minutes before sending it. After rereading your response, you might find that it is unintentionally rude or cold. This will only add fuel to the fire.
The capabilities we have because of the Internet amaze me more every day. Unfortunately, that’s not always a good thing. As long as you keep calm, stay professional and address issues upfront, you are doing all the right things to maintain your business or college’s reputation.