There is nothing harder than to sit back and read a blog or forum that contains criticism or your product and/or service. It is only the nature of our human brains to get our own points across to debate the negative publicity being plastered for all to read. Of course, you have to be passionate about what you are doing to really get the fire burning. Speaking from my own experiences, I thought I would give a few examples and suggestions in case you ever stumble across this situation in the future.

I’m sure you have heard the old cliché, “Any publicity is good publicity”. To a certain point, this is true. If the majority of your publicity is “damn them”, “burn in hell”, “die, die die” . . . then I would challenge the words of that cliché. What people have to understand is, no matter what product you might have, what service you might provide, there will always be critics. It is part of life in the business world. Successful people will always have people that dislike them due to their success, much like successful businesses have people that dislike them for how well the business is doing. Then there are a percentage of people that dislike whatever it is they offer, for whatever reasons.

It comes down to how that person or that business handles the criticism. More than 90% of the time the person or company being criticized should learn the art of silence. Let people have their comments about you, good or bad. Usually, the criticisms are way off the truth and the writers are just looking for attention, but there are also many times where it can be true. If it is on a website or any other type of documented media, just remember, anything you respond with will also be up for all to read. So “IF” you are going to respond, do so in the most generic and apathetic way you can. Consider being apologetic, not too much, but enough to show there was no ill harm intended.

Once a response happens, try and end the conversation at that point. Getting involved in a full fledged conversation with the critic that is documented on their website, could be a complete disaster that gets you saying things you will later regret. Keep your response very brief and stay away from the hot topic at hand.

A couple of examples, including one of my own, will show you how to not handle things. I will go ahead and throw myself under the bus first.

    • My first example dates back to 2004 when LinkWorth first hit the marketplace. Our system was still fighting through bugs and growing through overall design issues. A guy named Philipp Lenssen had created an account and was getting a good feel for it. Philipp and I had spoken a time or two on really good terms and he had nice things to say. Well during an upgrade of PHP, it caused problems with our support software and Philipp already was hot under the collar, so the support issue was the boiling point. He decided to post his issues on his pretty popular blog.When I first came across his post, I was shocked that something that he should have known was a glitch that could happen to anyone would cause such negativity, but as you will see there were a few other things that he was not happy with either. He claims he is fully aware we are new and will work the bugs out and even speaks of our new upgrade to the site, but at that point, he was ready to move on. So then follows my response. It was meant to be explanatory but to say I’m ok with him leaving if he’s unhappy. Well, it didn’t come across too well. Then it turned into what I hoped it wouldn’t be. I became too involved and let my passion for our service get the best of me. “How could anyone not like what I was doing!” 😀 Now this lovely discussion will appear when you search LinkWorth. Lesson learned. I’ve read other critics since that period and no longer respond. Our service and support speaks for itself these days.
    • The next example is one I happened across just recently. It is regarding a guy named Jarrod who is the owner of text link brokers dot com. Seems he stumbled across a website, which I’m familiar with, that called his service greedy and a few other hot opinions. This site has many posts about LinkWorth as well; it is a blog about buying and selling links. Anyhow, Jarrod made a very shocking first response to the webmaster who wrote that. After the fact, he claimed it was someone else that posted it and asked to have it removed. Thankfully it was not removed because if I can’t get my mistake removed, no one else should either. 😀 Later I found another site which seems to be tied into the other where the webmaster spoke of the bashing by Jarrod and then the guilty party chimed in and apologized for his remarks previously (I thought he said it was someone else that posted it?) and the two resolved their issues.

    So this just proves to you, letting your passion and emotions take over can really backfire. Take it from me and Jarrod. I’m sure we both wish things would have just disappeared, but speaking for myself, it keeps me humbled and more responsive to our customer’s needs. I will admit that it taught me a big lesson and had I known the art of silence then, I wouldn’t have been able to write this article. 😀