Public relations (PR) has always been an important part of business promotion, but the Internet gave it a brand new boost and showcased the backside of this opportunity. Many entrepreneurs, industry leaders, and CEOs still don’t understand the power of the so-called Black PR, but it’s vital to do because it’s becoming a critical tool in their competitors’ strategy.
What is Black PR? What to expect from it and how to cope with this problem? Keep reading my post if you want to find out the answers.
What is Black PR?
It is rather complicated to answer this question fast. The concept itself appeared a long time ago. Historically, its origin is associated with marketing in Russia, although at the moment almost every PR agency uses this technology. Such broad use shows the extreme effectiveness of this technique in advertising and promotion in general.
Black Public Relations, also known as Dark PR, is the pre-meditated try of destroying a competitor’s reputation. This PR practice aims to highlight or lie about competitors’ weaknesses. In doing so, experts in Black PR make their brands or companies look better comparing the closest industry competitor.
Think that this is a whole system of measures, the goal of which is to crush or worsen the reputation of a particular brand, company, or person. It can be a veiled or overt way to bring reputational damage to a competitor.
Dark PR purposes:
- create a negative image of the product;
- destroy the company’s reputation;
- form negative attitudes among consumers;
- win over customers to your side.
The list of methods is almost countless, but negative PR is more applied to politicians, business professionals, startup founders, CEOs. Of course, you can notice tons of PR campaigns aimed toward popular activists and influencers.
Black PR Techniques in Modern Marketing
Talking about the methods that can be used, you should know there are lots of them. It depends only on the creativeness and courage of the marketing department.
The well-known techniques for Black PR:
Publishing negative product reviews
A common Black PR method is to publish negative reviews about products or services. That way, you don’t directly assault the opponent but rather attack his/her latest or best-selling items. This tactic aims to impact public opinion and decrease competitors’ amount of sales.
Announcing corporate documents
This technique of Black PR mostly comes from the inside, when current or former employees reveals internal files and documents to harm the company. It’s often not so easy to identify its author, so be think twice when it comes to new candidate selection.
Creating deliberate compliments that are more likely to create a backlash. They use figurative ridicule of some feature through exaggerated praise.
Using an influencer, for example, a famous blogger or media personality for their interest. Hence, the influencer brings negative information to the publicity that works against its business rival.
Many PR experts work with exaggeration: efficiently and rather easy. How it works: one feature of a product is taken as a basis and is presented in a way that provokes negative associations among the target audience. Sometimes this feature is greatly modified, its significance is exaggerated, thus, due to one product or feature with a “high-colored” negative association, the rating of the entire company falls.
In such a method, PR technologists bring an effect to one group of people, which in turn is capable to cause the desired reaction in another. Thus the influence on a given audience happens with the help of other intermediary audiences.
“Fall into the trap”
It implies the creation of a situation in which a competitor seems to find himself in an uncomfortable situation, and this, in turn, is aimed at destroying the company’s positive image;
This technique means an artificially created situation around a product or business that will cause a public outcry among customers.
In this option, the authorities are used against the company, which through many checks and audits are able not only to decrease the company’s rating but also to stop its production.
An artificial problem.
In this case, a fictional problem is created around the product, which exaggerates and brings to the point of absurdity, which in turn destroys the overall reputation.
How to Fight with Black PR?
Now you understand the danger of Black PR, but do you know how to cope with it? There is no magic formula to fight with that, but you can use several strategies to nullify the negative campaigns.
Information is almost the main weapon of any PR. It can be received in different ways and be presented in different contexts. This is why working with information is the first step. When talking about the ways to respond to black PR on the web you need to distinguish which tool was used.
It is important to understand that black PR needs to be worked out and put under control. I chose the most efficient tactics for you:
The first rule is fairly simple – you need to avoid panic reactions and stay calm. Keep in mind, that answering rumors and negative comments too emotionally will only make it worse.
Build Positive Online Reputation & Remove Negative from SERP
Competitors may begin to fight extremely aggressively, then they will pay for the publications on media that will appear at the TOP of search rankings. To remove negative SERP you need firstly publish articles with truthful positive information about your product and promote them on various sites to displace possible negativity. And you shouldn’t fight with this alone, check out PRnews service, which will remove the negative from the first-page SERP on the most important keywords. The best way to outclass competitors and minimize the effect of Black PR campaigns is to publish the articles in reliable online media outlets. It will serve as an effective way to recover your brand or personal reputation as well as get better SEO rankings with high-quality backlinks to your website.
Once the audience understands you are a trustworthy source of information, it will be hard for anyone to convince target customers that you are the cannibal in this story.
Educate your staff
The next piece of advice is to inform your staff about the crisis management plan. It will help you to build a trustworthy team of workers and teach each worker to respond to negative comments quickly and adequately.
Working with reviews
The most effective way to work “in black” is to publish negative reviews and send them to special review sites. These reviews can include anything: compromising evidence, misinformation, may cause outrage, etc.
What you can do: Control all negative reviews that spoil the company’s reputation. Perhaps you shouldn’t work with reviews that were written a long time ago if you haven’t worked with them before. But the new negative must be monitored, processed, and leveled.
Present the facts
Another important rule of PR is, to stay honest, and present the facts. You shouldn’t fight lies with lies – your only chance to save reputation is to be direct and straightforward with the audience. If dishonest competitors are spreading lies about your products, you should answer with proven and data-driven facts, stats, and user reviews.
Constantly keep an eye on the brand mentions
It’s an integral part of PR experts to work with misinformation, rudeness, and absolute lies all the time. For this activity, it is not a bad idea to have a team that will monitor the information field of your brand or product, control black PR stuff, and exposes something publicly. You have to act here very carefully and professionally not to harm your image. The sooner you react to Black PR, the faster you’ll cope with this problem. This is why I strongly recommend you to keep an eye on the brand mentions using Google Alerts, social media monitoring tools, and all other apps and programs that can track comments about you and your business.
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Black PR is a controversial business phenomenon that can destroy years of hard work and building a reputation. The concept has become even more important in the digital era because anyone can create content, write reviews, or leave negative comments about you or your brand online.
For this reason, it is essential to know the basics of Black PR, know what to expect from it, understand how to deal with the problem and what services can facilitate this job for you. You could learn all that in the post, so make sure to use the suggestions I mentioned.
Do you have an experience with black PR? Feel free to add to our marketing library your story, leaving a comment.