5 Steps to Recover from Bad Press


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So no one came to your show/event, you said something you shouldn’t have or you got a bad review…and it’s been aired, published and/or posted. O…M…G…(and insert expletive). News travels fast, and now even faster thanks to the World Wide Web, but here are a few tips if you become “misunderstood” in the media:

Step #1 Do not panic

Do not let your reaction to the situation become another story. Becoming belligerent or insisting you are right, you were wronged or your line is the best (even though 5 out of 5 reporters beg to differ) will only make you appear defensive. It can be hard to swallow negative criticism, and even more difficult when you’ve spent months and months working on a collection or show presentation (only to have the reaction be less than excitement). Gather your thoughts, reign in your emotions and refuse to react negatively to poor criticism.

Step #2 Review the criticism

Was any of the feedback warranted and true? Could your line have used some more color? Did you poorly construct a garment and should it not have been shown? During your interview, did you say something that was better left unsaid? The integrity of the journalist will determine what will truly remain “off the record” but when talking with reporters it’s good to remember that they are there to do a job, which is write an interesting story. If you went on and on about how you were the best designer in a 200 mile radius, and they interviewed your competition after quoting you, you might receive some criticism for your less than humble comment.

Step #3 Craft a follow-up

Be on the lookout for follow-up story opportunities, and find ways to positively respond to any negative criticisms. For example, “While they weren’t crazy about my spring collection, I’m sure that they’ll be excited to see what I have planned for the fall!” If no one showed up to your event, take a poll/survey and find out why. Was it planned and promoted well? Did you allow enough time for RSVPs? Was there a holiday and/or conflicting event? Follow-up with reporters and hear their feedback directly. Invite them to follow-up so that you may keep them up-to-date on changes or progress. And if you were wrong, admit it. Also, know when to hire a professional publicist or PR firm to assist you when it’s necessary to help build (or rebuild) your image/brand image.

Step #4 Go direct

Are you building your brand reputation through your Facebook Fan Page? Twitter? Your own blog? Find ways to get the message out that you do want people to know about and put it out there! You can even address the criticisms/reviews you received through these channels, and respond…positively! Use discretion, and don’t let these online tools be ways for you to retaliate or react negatively. You’re a professional and remember tip #1: Gather your thoughts, reign in your emotions and refuse to react negatively to poor criticism.

Step #5 Do not give up

One bad review or 20 bad comments should not stop you from living out your passion. If you’re talented you must continue to work hard and not allow the less than favorable criticism consume you. And sometimes the “talent” can be overrated, as the saying goes: “Hard word beats talent, if talent doesn’t work hard,” so you must not give up! Another cliché saying is “no news is good news,” but when you’re feeling really bad about your negative criticism or review, just think…at least they know you’re out there and they covered you! OK, OK, so you’re not thrilled that they shared your collection may have been marred by the fact that you broke up with your boy/girlfriend. Well, opinions are like…uh, um, well…noses, and almost everyone has one, so don’t allow the criticisms to get you down. Move on and start preparing for your next PR opportunity, and get yourself ready to shine!


Nancy Vaughn

Nancy Vaughn

Nancy Vaughn is an entrepreneur and principal, PR & Marketing Director of White Book Agency, a full-service public relations, marketing and special events firm, specializing in fashion, beauty and lifestyle brands. She excels at assisting media professionals and clients alike, and is called upon frequently by media outlets for her PR/business knowledge, coaching and industry connections. She leads strategic publicity and marketing campaigns for businesses across the country and her clients have been seen in/on: InStyle, New Beauty, Style.com, Forbes, Design Bureau, Luxe Interiors & Design, MSN Fitbie, E! TV, CNN Latino, Refinery 29, The New York Times, Daytime TV, Dwell and more.