Dealing with Bad PR

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Dealing with Bad PR
By Beverly Flaxington
February 11, 2014
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Beverly Flaxington is a practice management consultant. She answers questions from advisors facing human resource issues. To submit yours, email us here.

Advisor Perspectives welcomes guest contributions. The views presented here do not necessarily represent those of Advisor Perspectives.

Dear Bev,

We had one of our advisors quit under difficult circumstances. He talked to some local reporters after he quit, and now we look like a terrible place to work. We are based in a small area, and his actions have done some damage to our reputation. One of the recruiters we know is hesitant to reach out to people until “the furor dies down,” as he puts it. We did not do anything wrong. This advisor was a misfit from the start. What can we do to minimize the ongoing problems his departure is causing us?

Name withheld

Dear Financial Advisor,

The problem you have is now that your ex-employee has made the move, most anything you do will look like you “doth protest too much!” Unfortunately it isn’t prudent or effective to launch a he-said, she-said fight in the public eye. Your question brings up some media dos and don’ts, though, which could help you during this difficult time or help you deal with media in the future.

  1. Get to know local writers and reporters. If you know them and have a relationship established, they’ll call you for a statement or comment before writing about you. You can get to know them by commenting via email or social media on something they’ve written, by offering to write a bylined article or by acting as a source for investment-related issues.
  2. Be proactive in communicating. Press releases are still used and welcomed by most reporters. If you have personnel changes, you don’t have to announce that a certain employee has quit, but you can talk about exciting changes at your firm and new things you are doing. In other words, direct the attention to something positive and hopefully minimize anything negative being said about you.
  3. Be clear about your values and your mission in any of your public information. A reporter is likely to look at your website or any blogs you have written to get a sense of who you are and what your firm stands for in the marketplace. If you are defining your image and it’s associated with something positive, a complaining ex-employee might get less attention.
  4. You mention you are in a “small area.” If you are able to have a current employee write a letter to the editor about how your company is a great place to work, it might get printed. The letter would look better coming from another employee than from you.

In short, it’s always a good idea to have a presence with media folks and a relationship with them. Start to reach out so you can build those relationships for the future. This issue with your ex-employee will go away. It might just take some time.

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