How to Handle Controversy in the Age of the Internet

For any business or public figure, finding your time in the spotlight brings certain responsibilities. Among them is being sure that any irresponsible actions you may have once wrestled with in the past must be put to rest. If there are any skeletons in your closet, that spotlight has a tendency to locate them and stir up controversy.And the internet them works as a delivery system to expose those skeletons to the world.

With a reputable PR firm that knows their business, you not only have access to a permanent form of damage control should these situations arise—you may be able to put up defenses that will prevent them altogether.Still, there are precautions to take. Follow these strategies to make sure controversy will never have the power to harm your reputation.

Prepare Yourself: If you have any events or rough times in your past, assume that they will eventually come to light. Prepare to eventually discuss them. Have a solid explanation at the ready. That is not to say that you need to be dishonest—in fact, you probably shouldn’t—but it never hurts to already have an appropriate answer in mind for touchy questions.

Rely on Your Contacts: If you don’t have media contacts, it never hurts to have a few saved and stored for emergency use. Should a controversy arise, contact these outlets to quickly serve up your side of the story. The internet also allows you to create blog posts or social media messages to get your message out.

Respond Quickly: Don’t waste time and let the controversy gain momentum. The moment it hits your ears, go online to see what is being said and then put a stop to it by arguing your case head on. The internet can be a sounding board and birthplace for controversies, but it can also be used as a means of self-defense when you are armed with correct information.

Press Releases: Use the internet for its immediate access; draft up a press release and see that it hits the appropriate outlets as soon as possible. Link to the press release from your website, Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media tools you have at your disposal.

Monitor What is Being Said: Stay ahead of the game by using services that monitor the media. These are services such as Vocus and Cision, just to name a few.

If you remain in the public eye for any significant amount of time, chances are that you will have to deal with at least a few of these things at one time or another. The trick is to keep a level head and think rationally. So long as you have the correct facts, figures and accounts, you have nothing to worry about other than a little recovery PR work.