How can a company compete against the Internet Rumor Mill

The United States Postal Service recently announced that it was “considering” eliminating Saturday service. Considering. Any decision would be far down the road, and no current customers would be affected in any way for the foreseeable future. But these facts did not stop the Internet rumor mill from going hog wild.

Here at 5WPR we have a few ideas about how the USPS can rise above the rumor mill to get the facts out.

Get your message out clearly

People listen to Internet rumors, whatever they are, because they are fearful or hopeful these will apply to them. In this case, even if the rumors were true, it may or may not affect people. But they FEEL like it would affect them. This point is vital. Presenting a clear, concise and easy-to-share message cuts through all the noise. Clarity reduces doubt. The reduction of doubt reduces worry. Without these negative emotions, people are less susceptible to believing nonsense.

Do not argue with the rumor machine

This is huge. There is no way you can keep up profitable conversations with all the boo-birds, naysayers, hacks and trolls out there. No way to combat all the half-truths or outright fabrications. So don’t waste your time trying. Do not engage the rumor machine. Rise above it. Present facts, not as part of any reactive conversations, but as the beginning of another conversation. Be proactive: “I said this.” “We are doing that.”

Engage in other areas

Focusing on one single issue can completely derail an otherwise efficient PR campaign. So, instead of getting sidetracked by any single issue, directly address that issue. Then be ready to launch, introduce or promote another service, product or brand.

Introduce a new or improved product or service

At the end of the day, everyone still wants to know “what’s in it for me?” People would much rather use new and interesting products or services than complain about old ones. I know that may not be true, but consider …

Remember when the iPhone was supposedly having sound issues? For about a week that was all over the Internet. Then Apple announced it was addressing the sound issues and was about to release a new product. BANG! All the focus went to that new product. Instead of excusing or over-explaining the other issue, Apple’s technology PR people simply addressed it and moved on to bigger and better. Loyal Apple customers and all the tech media dutifully focused on the new item. This gave Apple the opportunity to quietly fix the other issue.

Ronn Torosssian, CEO of 5WPR suggests following these five steps when you are confronted with the merciless Internet rumor mill. In doing so, public relations companies can set themselves above the mudslinging and concentrate on projecting greatness.

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