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Dealing With PR Headaches On Social Media: The Right Approach, And The Wrong Approach

When it comes to social media, things won’t always go your way. Sometimes, your audience will love what you are doing, but other times, you’ll face backlash. 

If you’re a mover and shaker, the latter is almost inevitable. Eventually, someone will get wind of what you’re doing and have a problem with it. Nobody built a successful business without some pain along the way. 

The purpose of this post is to explore the right and wrong ways of responding to PR headaches. You’ll learn the best things to do, and the worst, so you can use the former to drive credibility and avoid the latter. 

The Right Approach 

So, what should you be doing when it hits the fan on social media? Let’s take a look: 

Communicate Openly

Don’t try to hide away if something bad happens that affects your brand. Instead, come out fighting. Make sure you explain your position and don’t allow things to fester. Remaining silent isn’t usually a good strategy. 

If someone is releasing negative communication about your brand, hit back with positives. Ensure that people know where you’re coming from and stand on the issue. If you’ve made a mistake, acknowledge it. If you haven’t made one, push back while thinking about how your response will sound to different people. Try to avoid being tone-deaf. 

Respond Quickly

If you notice a PR headache, respond rapidly when it is small. Use software to detect brand mentions so you can insert your side of the story into the narrative as early as possible to prevent damage from being done. 

Responding quickly is essential to stop things from escalating out of control. If you let things run their course, you could find yourself in a weaker position. 

Be Proactive

There’s a difference between reactive and proactive PR. Reactive means you simply respond to the negative brand messages out there. Proactive PR, however, means you take action today to prevent problems tomorrow. 

If you manage a business on social media, you want to be in the proactive camp. Getting on top of issues fast helps you snuff them out before they become a serious threat to your business. If you wait, you could wind up making more problems for yourself. 

Be Honest And Transparent

You never want to lie your way out of a PR headache. That’ll just create an even worse problem. 

Instead, you want to be honest and transparent while showcasing your business in the best possible light. 

One way to do this is to take control of the story. The moment you become responsible for your actions and take corrective measures, that’s when things start to die down. 

The first step is to apologise for what’s happened and explain how it occurred without minimising it. If anyone was affected by the actions, look for ways to compensate them or improve the situation for them. Don’t leave them out in the cold. 

You also want to get your story straight before you provide a detailed response. Knowing the facts puts you in a better position to deal with criticism and move your brand forward. If you don’t go through this step, then you could make any existing mistrust worse. 

The Wrong Approach 

While there are several effective tactics for dealing with PR headaches, there are also multiple ways you can get it wrong. 


The biggest no-no is remaining silent. Many people interpret this as a sign of guilt. If you can’t come out and say something, it could mean you are hiding. 

Silence in the age of social media isn’t the same as silence historically. Before the internet, businesses could wait a few days before releasing a press statement. 

However, that’s no longer the case on social media. Even delaying a few hours could cause untold brand damage. 

If you are worried about putting out fires all the time, don’t worry – it’s just a part of doing business. Even large companies get into trouble because they have to manage thousands of people, and not everyone sticks to the company script. 

Saying nothing though will hurt your reputation and give people the wrong impression, even if you are innocent. 

Being Defensive

You also want to avoid being defensive when dealing with people on social media. Getting into arguments makes you look angry and incompetent, even if you are right. 

You want to take the high ground where possible. Even if the situation seems to be getting out of control, you want to appear professional. 

The blame is sometimes the responsibility of other parties. If that’s the case, simply release the evidence proving your honesty or innocence. Showing people what really happened can be an excellent way to sidestep arguments while protecting your brand. 

If it turns out you’re in the wrong, don’t point the finger at other people. That can make you look bad. Instead, focus on how you’ll make fixes. 

Deleting Comments

You also want to avoid deleting comments, one of the most pervasive strategies companies use when someone says something they don’t like. While this might seem like a brand-builder, it’s also an excellent way to get people to believe that you’re working against them. 

If you don’t want comments, turn them off as a policy on your posts and videos. Alternatively, embrace criticism as you go. Highlight the things that people say and address them. Give your audience the tools they need to deal with their doubts and continue using your products and services. 


Finally, you’ll want to avoid blame-shifting. Trying to place responsibility for social media PR headaches on someone else’s shoulders can look bad and negatively affect your brand. 

Try to avoid looking like you’re afraid to own up to your mistakes. Instead, take action, even if it seems like someone else was at fault. Put systems in place to prevent the same thing from happening again. 

If you follow these pieces of advice, you should find that your socials perform better. Don’t worry if something goes wrong: it’s just an inevitable element of owning and running an online business.

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About Lilach Bullock

Hi, I’m Lilach, a serial entrepreneur! I’ve spent the last 2 decades starting, building, running, and selling businesses in a range of niches. I’ve also used all that knowledge to help hundreds of business owners level up and scale their businesses beyond their beliefs and expectations.

I’ve written content for authority publications like Forbes, Huffington Post, Inc, Twitter, Social Media Examiner and 100’s other publications and my proudest achievement, won a Global Women Champions Award for outstanding contributions and leadership in business.

My biggest passion is sharing knowledge and actionable information with other business owners. I created this website to share my favorite tools, resources, events, tips, and tricks with entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, small business owners, and startups. Digital marketing knowledge should be accessible to all, so browse through and feel free to get in touch if you can’t find what you’re looking for!


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