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The idea of 100% good press and rave reviews are as mythical as Hercules and unicorns. It just doesn’t happen, and no business, no matter how great they are, gets good press all the time. Mostly because, it’s impossible to please everyone and some people will always leave companies and move on, and they won’t always leave gracefully. As HR professionals, it often falls upon your shoulders to clean up the mess, and that includes the messy business of continuing your hiring efforts when your company has come under negative review. It’s a difficult job (as if you didn’t have enough to deal with), but thankfully there are some things that can be done to manage your employment brand.

[clickToTweet tweet=”As HR professionals, it often falls upon your shoulders to clean up the mess” quote=”As HR professionals, it often falls upon your shoulders to clean up the mess.”]

Don’t ignore it

As tempting as brushing things under the carpet can be, just don’t do it. If there’s already an elephant in the room, our philosophy is ride it. Be honest with candidates about what’s going on and how you’re dealing with it. To some extent, bad press is inevitable; how you handle it as an organization will determine whether candidates want to actually work with you or not. And remember, we live in a time where—thanks to the internet, smartphones, and viral videos—nothing is hidden anymore and the truth always gets out. Or at least, that really embarrassing behind the scenes video always gets out.

Say sorry

Bad press doesn’t automatically mean you’re in the wrong as a business, but sometimes it does. In those instances, sorry really does seem to be the hardest thing to say, but it’s also the thing you should be saying the most. For a generation of millennials who value and favor honesty and transparency above all things, owning up to your mistakes is a lesson in employee engagement.

Your people are your fans

The people who are already within the walls of your organization are your biggest fans and asset, and you should use them as such. Naturally, not everyone in the business will be in love with you, but there are those who are, and who will understand the bigger story behind any negative press you’re currently going through. They will forever and always be your best brand ambassadors, so give them the tools and content needed to share and amplify your companies message. This might involve recording video stories highlighting them that they can then share with their own networks. After all, employer branding will always rely on word of mouth, so allow your employees to actually share their stories.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Employer branding will always rely on word of mouth, let your employees share their stories” quote=”Employer branding will always rely on word of mouth, so allow your employees to actually share their stories”]


Senior management teams and HR can often forget to talk to their employees on the ground and in the trenches before rolling out new processes and initiatives. They have a tendency to get carried away with the bigger picture, and while it is important, listening to your employees is just as imperative. They know what current company sentiment is like and how high morale actually is. They’re also the people that go home to husbands, wives, partners, and family members and tell them all about life at work and what the conditions are. Those stories then get passed around and around and before you know it, your employer branding is down the drain. Speak to them, and above all, listen to them.

Dealing with bad employer branding doesn’t always mean you have to convince candidates to come and work for you; it often means looking inwards and taking steps to address negative press, and then letting those stories carry themselves to the ears of candidates.

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