Photo: Flickr via mikebaird
Growing up, we are told if we ignore something it will go away. Pestering peers will stop tapping our shoulders, and hallway rumours about us will die down.That same concept is applicable to businesses under fire.
When unwarranted, negative press is flying around, it’s natural for companies under attack to defend themselves. But three psychologists tell The Economist that denying nasty rumours will only make matters worse.
To prove it, The Economist gives Coca-Cola and its issues in Arab countries as an example. People have said that Coca-Cola’s slogan really means “No Muhammad;” that is just one of the PR disasters Coke has had to combat overseas.
Naturally, the soft drink company has tried to patch up its appearance by refuting the claims on its website. But now, when you type “Middle East rumours” into Google, Coke’s website appears as the first search result. Clearly, the actions are only furthering Coke’s damage.
“By restating the rumours, Coke helps to propagate them,” The Economist writes. “Its web page is a magnet for search engines. And people who read rebuttals tend to forget the denial and remember only the rumour.”
So what’s the best way to handle negative press? Kill it with kindness.
In other words, start spreading “happy” rumours about the company. If nasty rumours are surrounded by nice rumours, the negative effects will get diminished, say the psychologists.
After all, it’s hard to hate something you’ve just heard something positive about.
For more on this study, head over to The Economist >>
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