How to Deal with Online Criticism of Your Company
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September 2019, by Yannick Elbaz
Employers
3-minute read

It’s never nice to find out that your company is the target of online criticism. However, there are concrete steps you can take to improve the situation. Our expert provides the lowdown.

 

You think you’ve found the ideal person for that hard-to-fill position at long last. Then, at the end of the interview, the candidate brings up a negative comment she read on the Internet about your company. What should you say? And should you respond to the criticism online? Yannick Elbaz, recruitment director at St-Amour, offers a nuanced take on the matter.

Knowledge Is Power

“Some criticism is totally lacking in credibility, but it may still sow seeds of doubt in a candidate’s mind. You need to be aware of it and prepare accordingly.”


The recruitment expert says that the job interview provides an opportunity to clarify the issue and emphasize the company’s values. Ask the candidate what it was about the comment that bothered her and how it relates to her own situation. 

Yannick believes it’s crucial to distinguish between comments made in bad faith and comments that express valid frustrations. The latter may suggest that something’s seriously wrong within your team. It would be a shame if your corporate culture was scaring off candidates.

You could discuss the matter with your recruitment specialist, who can provide a professional, external perspective.

“We communicate with thousands of candidates each year, which means we’re perfectly placed to understand what kind of reputation a company has.” 


That’s why one of St-Amour’s clients held a meeting with a number of its recruitment representatives to evaluate its reputation on the market. The feedback and advice it received were then incorporated into its communications plan. Taking proactive steps like this is a good way to avoid disparaging comments. 

Protect Your Online Reputation

Once the harm has been done, however, you need to react. It’s important to respond to negative comments, but it’s even more effective to support positive feedback.


“If you’re an SME, there may only be a few comments about your company posted online.”

 

This will make responding to them quicker and easier. The smaller the company is, the more management should be involved, since they embody the company’s values and set the tone internally. Online readers also appreciate it when a manager takes the time to address criticism because they value feedback and transparency. 

Here are a few simple rules to follow:

  1. Never respond in the heat of the moment. Even if a comment seems completely unreasonable to you, take a step back and write your response once you’re in a calm frame of mind. 
  2. Start off by thanking the poster for the comment, whatever it may be.
  3. Be precise and factual when explaining how you intend to deal with the problem, if there is one. 
  4. Mention the company’s values. This is an opportunity to highlight your convictions in a public forum. 
  5. Always think about your target audience (employees, candidates, clients, competitors, etc.) and not just the person who wrote the comment.
  6. Always have a colleague read over your reply before posting it and make sure there are no spelling errors. 

There are many tools out there that will let you know when people are talking about your company online. Google Alerts is free, while others – such as Nexalogy, Mediatoolkit, Reputation, Mention and Sysomos – are available for a fee.
If the comment is made on a platform such as Glassdoor, you should be aware that you can’t ask for your company’s name to be removed. The rules are strict. That makes it all the more important to incorporate digital communications into your overall communications activities and processes. 

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