Negative feedback shouldn’t be ignored, it should be used as an opportunity for positive publicity.

Organisations are no longer able to deal with negative feedback behind closed doors now that it is expressed on social media.

Second year RMIT Public Relations student, Katherine Watson discusses this Web 2.0 issue in her blog post. Watson questions the benefit of social media if it encourages negative comments from customers, something she calls “airing dirty laundry in public”.   

But surely the organisation can just delete the comment and pretend it never happened, right? Wrong!

It may look bad having negative posts on your Facebook page, however not having a platform for this feedback, or deleting negative feedback can look even worse.

Take the controversy surrounding the 2012 decision of the Komen foundation, an American charity organisation, to stop funding Planned Parenthood. Koman deleted much of the negative reaction posted on its Facebook page.


Members of the public protesting the Komen foundation’s decision 


Gini Dietrich, CEO of a marketing communications firm writes  “Komen has faced a massive social media backlash” because “deleting comments from your social media networks is not the way to build positive sentiment and rebuild trust”. There is no point in avoiding negative comments because such discussion will just be created elsewhere and potentially remove the opportunity for you to communicate in the discussion. 



Evidence of customers moving their negative feedback

to other social media platforms.


Dietrich believes the Public Relations professional must listen to negative feedback, not delete it. By failing to do this Komen diminished its brand name. 

In the long run, the amount of time and thought put into reading customer complained and trying to figure out a way to address them will pay off. 

So instead of sticking your head in the sand, why not make the best out of a bad situation and turn negative feedback into positive publicity?

Writer for Media Emerging, a strategic marketing and public relations blog, Scott Hepburn, points out that “negative feedback is a golden opportunity to show that you’re listening, you’re responsive, and you care”. Generally, customers develop their opinions of you by the way you respond, not the actual complaint made. 

Watson is correct in saying that a neglected social media platform can be disastrous.  Negative feedback shouldn’t be  avoided, it should be used as a way to demonstrate positive customer service and a value for customer satisfaction. 



Social Media is not a Fad, it’s Here to Stay and it’s Time to Learn How to Use it Appropriately.

The digital world is on the rise, and if you don’t jump on board, chances are you’ll be left behind. Unfortunately, there are still many organisations who are either not active on social media or aren’t using it appropriately. The organisation that fails to master social media risks becoming irrelevant. As Public Relations professionals, it’s important to understand this.

Some still believe that social media is just a phase and soon society will move onto the next craze. Social media strategist Dionne Kasian-Lew told Melbourne’s Social Business conference this year that only 30% of CEOs are connected with social media. This percentage is predominately made up of CEOs signed up to LinkenIn as opposed to other social media websites. This number is far too low.



Image from Dionne Kasian-Lew’s presentation at Melbourne’s

Social Business conference. 


Social media is not a fad and is not going away any time soon.

So how do you get organisations to implement the use of social media within their business practice, much less use it effectively?

Journalist and social media expert, Jordanda Borensztian, discussed this issue at Melbourne’s Social Business conference this year. In summary, she recommended you must follow a few simple rules when using social media.

  • Be engaging.
  • Post appropriate content.
  • Consider the social media platform that best suits your organisations demographic.
  • Use informal and conversational language.
  • Learn how to use the social media site properly. For example, learn how to hashtag and always link it to your other social media sites.
  • Ensure content is focussed and integrated.

An example of an organisation using social media effectively is SmartCompany, an Australian website that features news and journalism for small and large businesses. SmartCompany staff members are taught how to use social media appropriately. These skills include: how to make a page attractive, engagement generation techniques and post sentiment.


No doubt about it, within the culture of SmartCompany, social media plays an important role. Their tweets incorporate a range of structures, including pictures, questions, statistics and enticing statements. They contain appropriate content couched often in informal language. SmartCompany has conducted considerable research into understanding its audience and found the social media platforms most appropriate for targeting them. Examples of this can be seen in the images bellow.


An example of SmartCompany using an enticing statement in their tweet. 



As PR professionals it’s time to involve yourselves in social media, learn how to use it appropriately, and implement it in the everyday life of your organisation.