Over the years, you have probably heard a lot of crazy rumors about well-known brands. For example, that a popular fast food chain uses cow eyeballs to “beef up” its burgers or a taco joint puts sand filler in its meat.
If you are being totally honest with yourself, you might have talked about some of these rumors with friends and family members—after all, a juicy and wacky rumor about a company can be an interesting topic of conversation.
Of course, if you are a business owner, rumors are probably not as entertaining to hear or discuss—even if they are wild and untrue, like the cow eyeballs in the burgers, you still worry that people will believe them and will stop patronizing your business.
To help confront and deal with business rumors, please consider the following five approaches:
One way to deal with untrue rumors about your company is the flat out denial approach. If there is scuttlebutt circulating on social media that your business is moving to Canada, firing all of its staff and/or adding cow eyeballs to your product line (what is it with people loving rumors about cow eyeballs?) you can immediately issue a strong denial on your social media pages. Unfortunately, though, denying the rumor may actually strengthen the association between your company and the untrue statement, because it can alert people who had not heard the rumor that this untruth is out there.
Deny and Educate, All At Once
A more effective way to confront business rumors is to deny the untruth by educating readers about your company and the way you really run things. Amway is a good example of a company that’s done this well. The direct sales company has been accused of being a pyramid scheme, but Amway is not a scam. Instead of ignoring the rumors, the company has been proactive about responding on its website and social media pages in a positive, productive and honest way.
Anticipate Rumors and Be Proactive
This tip is especially useful when there will be a major announcement coming up about your company. If you are planning to relocate, jump the rumor gun and issue a press release and/or statements on social media stating the facts. If you are going to expand your product line, make an announcement to your staff and on your company website. By being aware that rumors will start flying soon and being proactive with the truth, you should be able to avoid your staff and customers making untrue claims about your business plans.
Ask What People are Hearing
Another way to confront business rumors is to periodically ask people what they are hearing about your company. You can ask your employees if they have heard anything, as well as trusted vendors and possibly some of your regular customers. You can do this with the help of sophisticated software or free online survey tools. This approach should not only clue you in to rumors that you might not realize are circulating, but it will also help alleviate everyone’s fears and assure them that you care about their feelings.
Encourage the Doubting Thomas
Another way to confront a business rumor is by asking your customers and/or employees if they are 100 percent confident the rumor is true. In this scenario, you’d name the rumor and then ask the group for reasons why they think the rumor could be true. Doing so helps them voice their concerns and uncover the rumor’s fallacies. Unlike flat out denying the rumor, this approach lets the people who are spreading the rumor consider the information in a new way.
No Matter Which Approach You Use, Never Ignore It
While you might be tempted to ignore crazy rumors about your company, this head in the sand approach may come back to bite you. Rumors can spread like wildfire if they are not addressed, so as unpleasant and time-consuming as it might be to deal with rumors, it is important to use at least one of these tips to nip the untruth in the proverbial bud.