During the monthly marketing roundtable that I host in Atlanta, a discussion arose on the topic of managing a company’s online reputation. One group member gave an example of a company that has more than 200 negative reviews on a single review website. The question was posed, “How can marketing and PR help a company recover from so many bad online reviews?” The short answer is—it can’t.
If you have more than 200 negative online reviews, you have a fundamental problem with the way you do business. Your issues are beyond a PR problem or marketing problem—your issues stem from bad business practices. I am a firm believer that public relations is a reflection of a company, not a mirage. Your company’s PR efforts are only as good as your company. If your company has bad business practices, a low quality product, or poor customer service, public relations is not going to fix it. These issues have to be addressed at the core business level of an organization.
I often say that integrity is a business’ greatest asset. Once integrity is compromised, it is difficult to regain trust. Is it possible for this company to recover from all of the negative online reviews? Maybe, but the company is not going to recover by getting a host of fake reviews to push down the bad reviews. It will only recover if it corrects the underlying business problems that are causing people to write negative reviews in the first place. If the problems are addressed, genuine positive reviews will begin to replace the negative ones, but it is a long road to recovery. A better option is to maintain your integrity in the first place and do business the right way—without compromise.