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People love to complain: how to survive the haters

January 28, 2011

People like to share.

As professional communicators, we spent 40ish hours each week agonizing over brand, colors, fonts, medium, message, personality, promise, visuals, voice, etc., all in in the hope that people will engage with our clients and possibly share. We might have even lost sleep about it. It’s part of what we do and who we are.

So what happens when a consumer takes that message and decides it is inherently false? Or they have a bad experience in store? Or suggest our clients are misleading the public? People still like to share.

Even more so when they’re pissed.

“It’s not my job.”

“That’s someone else’s department.”

“It’s an operations or PR issue.”

True. It’s not on most of our job descriptions. But it can affect our work, our budgets, and our focus. A groundswell of bad publicity can throw our entire year off-track. As communications professionals, we owe it to ourselves to understand what’s going on in the marketplace.

But, maybe it’s a weekend. And you can’t reach a soul. What do you need to do? Following are a few helpful hints to help your client’s SURVIVE.

Situational Awareness: What are they saying? Who are they saying it to? And are others picking up on it and passing it along?

Use your Searching Skills: Who are they? Who can they reach? How many friends do they have? Are they talking to no one or millions?

Remember who you are: For the most part, we don’t have license to speak for a client on policy. Approach them with an earnest desire to help get their concerns to someone who can, but in no means overstep your bounds.

Validate their position: They’re pissed off. Or hurt. Let them know you have their best intentions at heart.

Identify with them: Part of validation, but reinforce that you’re not connected to the entity in any social media capacity. You just want what’s best.

Victory is long-term: you won’t solve their issues today. You can’t. What you can do is help them navigate the landscape through your clients’ organization. And, reassure them along the way that action is being taken.

Escape: Get out of it. Let the professionals or clients deal with this situation. Make sure you brief them with all of your correspondence.

You may have just saved your advertising budget. But more importantly, you’ve proven to your clients that you genuinely care about all that they do. That’s not a business-to-business relationship, it’s a personal one.

Have you ever been in this situation? Leave a comment. Share your story below.



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5 Comments leave one →
  1. January 28, 2011 8:37 pm

    Wow, what a great article! Very powerful message there. Thanks for the info!

    • January 28, 2011 8:41 pm

      thank you. it was fun to guest blog on Matt’s blog. hopefully, he’ll ask me back.

  2. January 31, 2011 4:11 pm

    Something that we all have to learn to deal with. Someone is always complaining about something. Great advice.

  3. February 1, 2011 12:57 pm

    It’s people who are not happy in their own life, having a negative attitude toward life in general. Very good article.

  4. February 15, 2011 11:26 am

    thnx bro

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