Does black PR really exist?

Commplace PR agency

Black PR according to some means that no matter what they say, as long as they say it. Just a few years ago, this saying may have been true. Today, it is certainly impossible to agree with him. The whole industry, really public relations suffers from bad PR. It is black PR that makes it perceived as a corporate tool to hide the truth. Black PR is creating positive messages based on bad news. Has your company leaked hazardous substances? One of the parts of the car turned out to be defective? Someone famous had an accident while driving under the influence of alcohol? No problem… call the PR team. This perception of PR has made us all suffer the consequences.

Posting negative news. Preparing false statements from "anonymous third parties". Create negative or misleading content on small but powerful websites. Payable use of the services of unscrupulous "journalists". Generating large amounts of negative social media posts. Saturating search results with negative content to lower positive results. Here is what, among others there is black PR. These are just examples of the growing and risky "new category" of the industry public relations. The industry, which in its essence was born to care for a good image, acceptance and kindness towards the activities of a given person or organization. Each honest PR agency it works in this spirit.

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Black PR has short legs

Black PR. What separates black PR from the one that many of us practice, there is a small, often fine line called "ethics". It's a line that, no matter how many codes of conduct we follow, is directly related to our core values, beliefs and behaviors. There is, however, another problem that is starting to take root at a deeper level. A trend that needs to be reversed. Well, unfortunately, more and more often, lying seems to be more and more natural when it is advisable. When thanks to it you can avoid embarrassing situations for the company.

Meanwhile, not only companies and leaders, but all of us should come back to the belief that lying is never right. For credibility, honesty, and often even financial reasons, a company is ultimately better served by the truth than a lie. Let's take, for example, situations from the world of politics. The Watergate scandal, the scandal involving President Clinton and Monica Lewinsky, and many, many more. How much better would leaders be if they had insisted on honesty from the start? Black PR it has done them more harm than good. Even after making some serious initial mistakes, situations could still be stopped from spinning out of control. If only there were greater honesty in facing the truth.

Internet - a paradise for black PR

Black PR of course, it follows the development of communication channels. On the Internet, there is no shortage of offers for paid entries, opinions, comments on online forums or social networks. A place where black PR even flourishes are all websites and portals related to the labor market. There used to be a saying - a satisfied customer will tell three friends about the company, and a dissatisfied customer will tell ten. In the age of the Internet, the scale of the problem has increased significantly. This is also the case with dissatisfied employees - who knows, real or only impersonating such.

On the web you can find a multitude of entries slandering the employer. The question is how many of them are untrue stories. Typical black PR, and the described situations never happened. Where does this exuberance come from? Certainly a lot of it merit of anonymity. It is she who gives many people a feeling of impunity. It allows freedom of expression unlimited by any moral standards. The web gives virtually endless possibilities of modifying existing content. Freedom to comment on everything and everyone. And moderators or administrators are not always able to react quickly enough. Black PR is also doing well in business. How is it manifested? You can create a fake website that imitates a competitor's website, but communicates content unfavorable to its image. By creating the opinions of disappointed "customers". The range of possibilities is large, but the point is not to prompt and support black PR.

Black PR - examples

Even big brands like Nutella and Amway have fallen victim to fake news. By proving that the rumors about you are false, you prove to your customers that they can trust your services. Reacting to black PR and the misinformation it causes keeps your customers loyal.

In 2016, there was a panic among consumers of Nutella when it was announced in the news that it contained carcinogenic palm oil. The European Committee on Nutrition Standards warned that even occasional consumption of this nutrient could pose a risk to children's health. Scientists have not been able to determine what level of consumption is acceptable due to a lack of adequate research. To defend the accusations, Ferrero released the ingredients of its iconic chocolate-nut paste to the public. It also launched an advertising campaign to reassure consumers that the products contained in Nutella were safe. The manufacturer explained that without the addition of this specific oil, the cream would lose its delicate and smooth texture. Ultimately, the scandal did not affect the sale.

black PR, like a lie, has short legs

In 2007, a court ruling for Amway and a fine of $ 19 million ended black PR it aimed at competitor Procter & Gamble, spreading rumors that P&G was allocating its profits to the Church of Satan. The process, which began with one rumor, took 12 years. Nevertheless, its origins date back to 1981. It was then that the first voices appeared claiming that a bearded man with the company's logo is a mockery of the Apocalypse of St. John. Interestingly, in Poland, the image of a bearded man with the Procter & Gamble logo was associated with the figure of Mr. Twardowski. According to the fairy tale, he made a pact with Satan. Black PR, practiced by Amway, received wide publicity. The explanations from P&G representatives and the logo change did not help. This whole situation went down in history as an example of a crisis triggered by a single rumor.

Black PR techniques

Black PR is the practice of disseminating negative information about a brand. It often damages its reputation and corporate identity. Black PR can discredit a company or a person. Popular discrediting techniques include:

- composing and disseminating false news

- posting negative reviews

- presenting misleading "facts".

It is very important to respond to negative publicity and try to shake it off quickly. If you don't, not only your reputation could suffer, but your sales could also suffer. The respondents provide abundant evidence that the company's reputation on the Internet has a direct impact on the company's profits:

- 90% consumers have used the internet to find a local business over the past year and 33% does so daily

- the average consumer reads 10 reviews before feeling able to trust the company - only 53% people would consider using a company that has less than 4 stars as rated by Google

- among consumers who read reviews, the 97% also reads company responses to comments.

 What people say about you on the internet is important.

black PR - it's worth defending against it

Black PR - how to defend yourself?

While doctors use scalpels and drugs to help patients, PR agencies skillfully use TRUTH. It is their weapon to overcome lies and unfounded information that can harm their customers. What can companies do when they fall victim to black PR? It is best to prepare in advance for such an eventuality and have a strategy in place warming the image. What is black PR afraid of? First of all - corrections and clear messages. Moreover, the right strategy makes the situation seem dire and can be turned into success. Getting into discussions with a given brand may increase interest in a given brand. However, it also carries a high risk that the effect will be counterproductive. Spouting, verbal scuffles - this is not what the recipients expect. So how do you fight to regain your good name? An effective method may be factual argumentation or documenting the falsehood of the allegations or words of the competition.

Is it worth using black PR?

Practicing black PR is not a way to build your own reputation or alleviate your PR problems. While public relations it is still about image and social perception, times have changed. Today, the expectation that companies will be more transparent and be more accountable for their actions is much stronger. Instead of trying to slander and portray your competition in a bad light, or blame the crisis on external circumstances, you have to face the problems. While it may seem tempting to try to blame someone or something else, slapping and blaming mud often causes further negative public reactions rather than attracting more allies. Hence, companies need to find more creative ways to redirect negative attention than black PR. Perhaps find an opportunity to do some positive public relations to offset something negative? Usually, the simplest reaction is to take responsibility for the problem - in most cases that responsibility and honesty will have a more positive effect than a distraction.

Consumers are now looking for more authentic interactions with businesses. They often show that they value it more than just communicating the most important events related to the company to them. Consumer confidence among individuals is currently low. For this reason alone, black PR is a risky activity. If it comes out (and it often does), it can be more damaging than helpful to your company's image in the long run. So how can public relations continue to effectively manage audience perception? The concept of being ahead of history still holds true. It is worth monitoring entries about the company in the media, tracking the mood inside the company to stay ahead of the message that will grow into a huge news. This is very important, especially now that information is spreading over the internet faster than lightning.

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