First, some background: Are you a consumer? Do you like to make informed purchases based on comparing products and options? Do you go online for straight-forward advice and guidance? If so, you’re likely a fan of The Wirecutter, a product review website that covers all these bases.
Now, back to the lecture at hand… the Blog Aesthetic spends plenty of time analyzing crisis PR, and has examined what typically goes wrong when it comes to countering negative headlines. More often than not, this process involves a public apology of some sort. Here are examples of how not to apologize.
Good news is Wirecutter has delivered a fresh, clean version that gets right to the point and does it with class. The site recently did a review of home holiday lights (home holiday lights — how often does that kind of product even get a worthwhile review?), but apparently erred in reporting some of the basic product information, no doubt sending commenters and other online busybees into momentary fits of rage.
Granted, this isn’t the type of high-profile corporate scandal one might expect to see blaze across the news, but regardless, how the site handled the fallout and apologized is textbook, crisis PR 101 for how to make the bad news go away:
• “I made a mistake.” Talk about ripping off the band-aid! When it comes to crisis management and reporting bad news, just get it out and you’re already halfway there.
• “This mistake got past me because I’ve been a little distracted lately with some personal stuff, and I missed it entirely. There’s no good reason, basically. I’m sorry.” No excuses, just honest commentary to help set the record straight. Darden Restaurants, you paying attention?
• “If anyone has a problem with the lights they ordered from the first version of the story, please let me know.” Getting closure to a rough PR incident requires explaining simple corrective steps to follow.
• “We will make more mistakes, but hopefully we will not make the same ones twice.” Ends on a positive note, says we’re all human and commit errors, puts the matter behind and moves on — that’s how you finish getting over the hurdle.
Take a gander at the overwhelmingly positive, encouraging comments left on the site to see the value of the apology. Bravo Wirecutter!