When negative publicity hits close to home, your instinct may be to downplay the situation and then retreat from the spotlight as soon as possible. Before you do, remember the old cliché that “all publicity is good publicity.” It is possible to spin negative publicity into positive legal marketing for your firm—just follow the steps below.
- Gather information
Get the facts before responding. This ensures that you make informed decisions, perpetuate correct information, and display a firm grasp of the situation to followers and critics alike. Consider personally approaching all individuals involved with the issue at hand to hear things straight from the source(s), and withhold judgment until after gathering the facts.
- Form an appropriate plan of action
Every negative PR situation calls for a slightly different legal marketing response. For example, if your personal injury firm received a slew of negative Yelp reviews or negative Facebook comments regarding the poor client service, the issue can be dealt with in-house; simply address substandard client service practices, train the person(s) involved for better client interactions in the future, and then apologetically address the comments on social media. Attempting to make amends and trying to woo a critic into a fan demonstrates to everyone that you take mistakes seriously and are committed to making things right.
- Hit all avenues
If the scale of the issue requires you to communicate with media outlets, leverage existing relationships to bring those conversations to fruition or take initiative and reach out to journalists. Once you make those connections, don’t just consider them a one-time deal. Instead, plan on regularly communicating with journalists, taking them out to lunch or perhaps even providing third-party legal analysis on news pieces. If you’re a bankruptcy law practice, consider making yourself available to comment on current events like celebrity bankruptcies or new state bankruptcy legislation, for instance. Media relationships forged under less than ideal circumstances may actually help your firm perpetuate positive legal marketing in the future.
If the detrimental story starts to trend on social media, reach out to social media users involved in the conversation. You might say, “Thank you so much for your constructive criticism! At Law Firm Name, our mission is to maximize every client experience to make their life better. Sometimes we fall short, giving us an opportunity to make improvements so that our clients receive nothing but the best. We’d love to hear your feedback and discuss the changes we’re making every day. Please feel free to call us at 999-999-9999.”
Starting productive conversations is a great way to humanize your brand and display your integrity—something that your audience will appreciate and respect.
- Explain the situation
In negative PR situations, a united front is always best. Discuss negative PR situations with your team members. They will appreciate being informed and you’ll remain in control by nipping rumors in the bud. Most importantly, your team’s response to the negative PR will be consistent all around, and everyone will have an opportunity to learn how to improve upon your firm’s legal marketing strategy in both positive and negative situations.
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