As businesses, serving our communities and customers with integrity and professionalism, it is no longer enough to carefully parse our words in every email, blog post or Facebook update….

We must also have a well-thought out PR crisis action plan to combat what is looking like the inevitable social-media attack from a hyper-sensitized public that increasingly trashes a business for what they think they are associated with; for who they think they are; and for what they think they stand for.

And increasingly for statements or opinions conveyed not by the actual post, but from “reading between the lines.”

That is the very real and recent lesson from three bridal stores that were mercilessly attacked on social-media platforms essentially because of mistaken identity.

The next issue of VOWS will delve into this more deeply… and we’re working with the National Bridal Retailers Association on a PR crisis management plan…but I felt this topic’s urgency demanded a more immediate discussion.

We all have emergency action plans… for natural disasters, fires, death of ownership, etc.

But I doubt if those plans include dealing with a public relations disaster that descends seemingly out of nowhere with a vengeance that threatens our businesses and (in the worst case) the well being of our staffs.

Considerations for developing such a plan:

-sketch out a hypothetical social-media storm, including worst-case scenarios;

-create an action plan of responses, and for who among your staff will do what;

-be prepared to ask employees to delete their work references on their personal social platforms in the interest of their personal safety;

-be prepared to take down personal and staff bios on your website when appropriate;

-consider setting up a phone recording system to protect you against unfounded claims, and to strengthen appeals to hosting and review companies that may lock up your accounts and/or allow negative shaming posts;

-have a discussion with employees about how they respond to brides, and what they post or do on personal time that could impact the business… and their livelihood;

-get the latest updates from Google, Yelp, Facebook, etc., on how best to respond to excessive negative reviews and posts, and take down actions;

-research today local PR firms that specialize in crisis management to be prepared to make that call when needed.


I am not attempting to alarm you… however, I do think there is a high probability that each of us will at one point be the victim of such an attack.

Being prepared for that outcome, regardless of its severity, is just good business.