How to respond to negativity, criticism and hate?

IT Cluster IT Cluster

«Negative news is written 10 times more often than positive news,» said Anna Korzh, PR Manager at CodeIT, sharing her experience.

That is why every PR specialist, employer brand specialist, and external communication specialist should know what to do in case of a crisis.

On July 11, Kharkiv IT Cluster gathered colleagues as part of PR CommuniTy, the main topic of the meeting was: «Negativity on the Internet: how to change it in your favor?».

Anna Korzh, PR Manager of CodeIT, who has 6+ years of experience in business associations, government and educational institutions, healthtech, and IT, shared her experience, cases, and expertise.

During the event, we talked about:

📌 Crisis situations
📌 What does a hater want?
📌 Negative feedback, how to avoid or overcome it
📌 What not to do?

Despite her expertise and years of practical experience, Anna is open to new ideas from all her colleagues.

Crisis situations

The speaker identified the following types of crisis situations:

🔴 negative feedback;
🔴 scandals involving the company (conflicts, fake news, paid-for articles);
🔴 emergency events beyond the company’s control;
🔴 potential crisis situations.

Some of the above incidents can be resolved:

🟢 events beyond the company’s control can be resolved by a quick response, appeal to facts, and reporting of emergencies;
🟢 the scale of crisis situations can be reduced by preparing, monitoring and preliminary counteraction to potential crises.

Also, in a networking format, together with her colleagues, Anna analyzed real reviews of goods, products and employer brand and considered the main mistakes and shortcomings.

Hate and criticism. What is the difference?

hate_criticism_different-414x233 How to respond to negativity, criticism and hate?

«Hate is easy to distinguish; it is accompanied by: judgments, labels, accusations and emotional coloring, lack of facts, exaggeration, aggression,» Anna Korzh quotes.

To know how to resist negativity, you need to know what haters and critics want to achieve with their actions. The speaker of the meeting knows the answer to this question.

What do haters and critics want?

📌 Material and moral compensation
📌 Punishment of the guilty
📌 Explanation of the situation and guaranteeing its avoidance in the future
📌 Satisfying their «positive thoughts» about the brand or company. A person wants to justify themselves for loving a brand or company. A hater or critic expects facts that tell the person «we can still be loved».

basic_truths-414x233 How to respond to negativity, criticism and hate?

What should you do if you encounter negativity?

1. Apologize, thank them, and speak only the facts. Provide the person with moral compensation and do not make excuses
2. Find an opportunity for personal communication. Always try to communicate with the hater one-on-one: phone, meeting, etc. Let the person experience emotions in person, not online

«If you or your company produces a specific material product, one of the options for personal communication that can be used is to invite a critic or hater to the production site. Show them how everything works and increase their loyalty and trust in your company,» Anna comments.

3. Help and satisfy the need: compensation (give a discount, make a payment) + admit guilt + guarantee avoidance in the future (explain why it happened and give a solution that will prevent such an incident from happening again) + appeasement
4. Don’t escalate the situation, be polite
5. Try to negotiate the removal or update of the feedback. Show how you managed to solve the person’s request
6. Be sure to proofread and edit the comments of the company’s top executives regarding the crisis. This will help you deliver coherent messages from all sources.

In addition, the speaker noted several key points when dealing with negativity:

📌 respond to criticism or hate within 24 hours;
📌 keep personal things personal. Consider cases, orders, resumes, etc. exclusively in private messages.

Q&A session

At the end of the meeting, everyone had the opportunity to ask the speaker questions in person. One of them concerned burnout at work.

How to avoid burnout when working with negativity?

✅ Do not take criticism and hate personally
✅ Take criticism as a growth area
✅ Rest and do not forget to release emotions

Special attention was paid to dealing with negativity using Chat GPT. Today, Anna does not recommend using artificial intelligence to generate responses to criticism. It’s better to respond personally and take an individual approach to solving each issue and each individual person.

However, if you are faced with the task of responding to a bot hate or attack, when you can give a response in a template and standardized way, then Chat GPT is your best assistant.

The main difference between bot comments and real people is low quality, lack of experience and relevant information.

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Those who did not join the meeting can watch the recording of the event here.

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