Issues and crisis communications campaign

A family firm with four bases across the UK and more than 50,000 customers, had received a handful of negative comments online. With zero PR and marketing activity, this meant the majority of online comments about the firm were negative.

The comments were having a negative effect on sales and the company wanted to limit negative reviews and instigate positive comments about the company online to fairly represent the views of the majority of its customer base.


Objectives and planning

At the outset, we carried out in-depth research to fully understand the situation.


  • Reviewed search engine results for negative branded searches
  • Analysed social media channels
  • Researched common customer complaints
  • Identified potential causes of the complaints
  • Reviewed negative articles

Our plan and strategy focused on encouraging current customers to share their views and experiences online, as well as placing positive editorial in key third party publications.

We knew that third parties, both traditional media and the general public, talking about the company in a good way would impact what potential customers thought about the brand.

In addition, it was key to re-build relationships with customers who felt dissatisfied with the service.


Numbers and figures

Increase of Google review status to


Increase in positive Google reviews

Pieces of regional editorial coverage


Our first step was to suggest operational changes to reduce the number of complaints. For example, new wording for the sales team to avoid mis-communication.


We split PR activity into three main areas:

  • Google reviews
  • Search engine results
  • Facebook


Google reviews

With sales activity and word of mouth referrals increasing brand searches in Google, our first step was to increase the average review rating as this is seen before customers click through to the website.

We used email marketing to targeted customers (eg customer for at least 12 months with no history of complaints or missed payments).

We were honest in the content, explaining the situation and asking for people to leave a review.


Search engine results

We carried out digital PR to secure coverage in trusted online media to encourage Google to display recent and accurate stories about the brand.

We targeted online news outlets with a domain authority of at least 30.

We also ran competitions (promoted via social media, PR and email marketing) to increase brand related searches so these would displace ‘<BRAND NAME> complaints’ as a popular search term in Google.

We also amended all entries in online directories to ensure consistency in opening hours to avoid contact issues.



We pointed Facebook and Google in the direction of a newly-created official Facebook page, which was more relevant for users than the unofficial page.

We also used Facebook as a customer service tool to reduce phone calls (and therefore waiting time), and ensured all comments were responded to quickly.


Outcome/client testimonial

Media relations

  • Achieved 42 pieces of regional editorial coverage (28 online, 19 of which had a domain authority of more than 30)


  • Zero negative articles on page one of Google for brand-related searches
  • Google no longer recognises ‘<BRAND NAME> complaint’ as a popular search term


  • Replaced the unofficial Facebook page with an official page
  • Responded to every customer contact

Google reviews

  • Increased Google reviews for all four branches to at least 4.0 stars
  • Responded to every customer issue


“We had not carried out any PR and marketing and found that we had a handful of negative reviews online. The subsequent ratings did not reflect the thoughts of the majority of our 50,000 customers who were happy with the service but had not reviewed the company.

“The team at Outwrite has been fantastic and have corrected the perception we weren’t a good company to deal with. We now feel confident that when a customer sees our brand online, they will have a good opinion about us



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We understand that when reputations are on the line, so too are sales and profits.
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