Strategies for Handling Bad Press

Most bullies are trying to make themselves feel more important. No matter the reason, as a brand you have only one road available for a response the high road.

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Despite your best efforts, your brand will occasionally be maligned by well-intentioned (or otherwise) individuals and brands. Sometimes it will occur because you failed to execute something as well as you could, sometimes it will be because you’re the brand with the most top-of-mind awareness in your marketplace. Sometimes, it’s because the other brand is simply a bully. Dealing with Bullies observes, “Some bullies are looking for attention. They might think bullying is a way to be popular or to get what they want. Most bullies are trying to make themselves feel more important. When they pick on someone else, it can make them feel big and powerful.” No matter the reason, as a brand that aspires to greatness you have only one road available to you for a response — the high road.

photo credit studiostoer

We’ve talked before about brands needing to have manners and display an understanding of social etiquette. In those moments, that’s where the rubber meets the road for your brand’s image. Mudslinging and name-calling will only escalate the situation and inevitably make the brand who is engaging in it look bad. If the “bad press” is occurring because you failed to meet your own standards in one way or another, then do as Manners for the Modern Brand™ suggests and “Apologize – quickly, and graciously. Even if it wasn’t really your fault.”

If this is stemming from professional jealousy or simply a bully-brand, then follow the advice handed out in Bullies: How to Handle It,

  • Ignore the bully. Pretend you didn’t hear him. Don’t even look at him. Walk right past him if you can.
  • Don’t cry, get angry, or show that you’re upset. That’s the bully’s goal. Don’t give her the satisfaction. Even if you’re feeling really hurt, don’t let it show. You can talk about or write down your reactions later.
  • Respond to the bully evenly and firmly. Example: “No.” “That’s what you think.”
  • If you can, turn a comment into a joke. Example: The bully says, “Stupid outfit!” You say: “Thanks! I’m glad you noticed.”
  • Turn and walk away, or run if you have to. Remove yourself from the situation. Go to a place where an adult is present.
  • Remember that you are not the one with the problem. It’s the bully who has the problem.
  • If you’re being called names or teased, try “The Fog Tank.” Imagine that you’re inside a huge fish tank filled with white fog. Then, imagine that the insults are swallowed up by the fog before they reach you. Nothing touches you. Practice by thinking of the worst things a bully can say to you, then letting the fog eat them up.

Following these strategies will help your brand rise to the top and succeed. It takes more restraint and more “class” to refrain from jumping into an all-out brawl with another brand, but it’s worth it. People want to do business with Brands that are respectful, classy, and exercise restraint.


Tisha Oehmen

Tisha Oehmen is a professional brand strategist and a leader in the branding field. She was recently named a member of the Global Guru’s Top 30 Brand Gurus. She is also the co-founder of Oregon-based Paradux Media Group and the best-selling author of the book, Finding Brand: The Brand Book Tutorial.

Possessing expertise in both front- and back-office operations, Tisha conceptualizes, develops, and implements initiatives to foster brand effectiveness like no other. With over 15 years of experience in branding and marketing, Tisha has successfully led large financial institutions and health care companies down the path of renaming their business.

Where Tisha really shines is in the work that isn’t done. Sometimes a name change for a business isn’t in their best interest and after meeting with Tisha, they are able to find the true value and equity that has always been in their brand. Tisha has a special knack of being able to communicate the value so that the CEO/Business owner can see its luster and then with a little polishing, make it shine company wide.

Tisha is best known for developing long lasting branding campaigns that speak to the heart of the business, the brand, and the community. True brand, no matter how big or small, has longevity. Creating branding campaigns that have longevity, that have a laser-like focus, is where Tisha thrives.

Tisha received her M.B.A. from the University of Oregon, from where she also earned a B.A. in Political Science. She enjoyed a distinguished academic career punctuated by enthusiastic and successful participation in competitive speaking events, and holds numerous awards for her skill in public speaking. Tisha is widely recognized for her ability to capture an audience’s attention with her straightforward and engaging speaking style.

When not working, she enjoys golfing, baking, reading, and hiking with her partner, Mike, and their two dogs, Chloe and Jackson. She’s also an active member of Rotary International, the Chamber of Commerce, and is a very proud supporter of the Oregon Ducks. Tisha lives in Eagle Point, Oregon.

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