Sooner or later, someone is going to write something about you, your company, or a client that you don't like. If the difference is a matter of fact, you can usually get a correction. If it's a matter of opinion, you'll need a more subtle strategy.
That's the position in which this article's writer, John Sidline, found himself after Inc.com columnist Erik Sherman opined that a product represented by Sidline's PR firm was less revolutionary than Sidline's release asserted it was. (Read Behind the Scenes of an Overhyped Launch and decide for yourself.)
Sidline failed to talk Sherman and his editor into a more favorable opinion. But an entrepreneur himself, Sidline had a creative response: he wrote five tips for Inc.com readers who may one day find themselves similarly at odds with a columnist. "How you deal with this frustration," he writes, "can be every bit as important" as how well you assist your product's friendlier reviewers.
As a journalist often on the receiving end of PR, I think the advice he offers below is sound. So, in the interests of passing on any tips that can help Inc.com readers, here is Sidline in his own words. - Eric Schurenberg, editor, Inc.com
- Use the comment section. If an online publication allows readers to place comments beneath stories, use that space to address misleading, confusing or incorrect information. Be cautious not to appear defensive, and don’t engage in a protracted back and forth with the writer.
- Contact the publication’s editor. When you know an article has several inaccuracies or is based on faulty assumptions, take that information to the editor. An editor may require the writer to update the story to address issues, which will at least partly set things right. If you have a strong case the editor may invite you to write a response.
- Share correct information. Facts always resonate better than conjecture. In our case the news generated a large number of [more favorable] articles in outlets ranging from trade blogs to the Wall Street Journal. Use social networks, company blogs and email newsletters to share positive stories. If there are enough of them, they will overwhelm your negative press.
- Try to win over the writer. If the writer is truly interested in the market your news addresses he may wish to learn more. Hold open the invitation to be briefed by executives and analysts, and extend it via the editor to the entire publication or Website. Another writer may be interested.
- Move on. It’s important not to dwell on one article. Address the issue quickly and professionally. Bad press can be part of the game.