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As a business owner, it feels great to come across happy customers sharing the love online. Whether they write a raving review or tag your business in a photo, it’s validating — and it’s free advertising.

But what if you find false rumors floating around about your business? This negativity could potentially damage your company, causing sales to fall and your positive brand recognition to decline. You want to confront these rumors, but you may not be sure of the best ways to do so. The following tips offer advice on how to handle this dicey situation professionally, positively and effectively:

Internal Rumors: Practice Damage Control

One of the many nasty things about internal workplace rumors is that they can go beyond office walls and end up spreading to the public. If you catch wind that some of your employees are spreading a rumor about your company, try to stay calm while practicing damage control. Call an all-company meeting or send out an email that addresses the rumor and clarifies what is actually going on. During this communication, strongly discourage interoffice gossip sessions and rumors. Instead, try to create a safe way for employees to talk to their managers or you about rumors they’ve heard or fears they may have.

External Rumors: Don’t Run Away from the Untruths

If you have a crabby customer out there spreading rumors and lies about your company, you might be concerned that you’ll damage your image by addressing these untruths. Not true. In reality, you will risk devaluing your company much more if you ignore the rumors and do nothing. Just as you take the bull by the horns and address rumors with your co-workers, you should do the same with any rumors that are going around out in public—acknowledge what is being said and then teach people the truth about your company.

For example, popular direct selling company Amway has dealt with accusations of being a scam. Many have asked “Is Amway a pyramid scheme?” Instead of ignoring these questions, the company has made videos and written blog posts addressing the concerns and explaining the company’s direct selling business model. Doing so debunks myths and enables potential customers to find the truth about your company from the source, instead of relying on Internet gossip.

The Key Takeaway? Never Ignore a Rumor

While it may be tempting to ignore the group of employees huddled around the water cooler or lie you see online, it is probably the least effective approach. Think of a rumor as a small fire that needs to be put out with the “water of truth”—and that figurative H2O can only come from the company owner. Call a company meeting, put an anti-rumor policy in your employee manual and acknowledge and refute any lies out in the public domain, and your company should stay free from rumor mill damage.

 

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