Big companies, small businesses – we all work very hard to deliver an extraordinary product or service to our customers. We want happy customers and employees and will generally do (almost) anything to keep them happy. Despite our best efforts, there will be times when someone is dissatisfied and complains. These days, they don’t always complain directly to us. If they are really ticked off, they head straight to the nearest computer to share their thoughts with a virtually limitless audience. Between blogs, websites, social networks, chat rooms and videos, their options are numerous.

Can we prevent them from doing this? Can we make the bad publicity go away? In almost all cases, the answers are – No and No. What does set us apart is how we respond to the criticism. Integral to determining a response while simultaneously reinforcing the brand is understanding your target audience. What is important to them? What about this company attracts them? Which communication mediums do they use?

An absolutely fabulous example of a big company taking a lemon and making lemonade is EA Sports, creators of video games. A fan of the Tiger Woods video game posted a video on YouTube showing a glitch in the game as the graphics showed the golf pro standing in water at one point. Uh-oh! While I’d imagine that, behind closed doors, there were discussions about who did or didn’t do what which led to such an oops, what came out to the public was nothing short of brilliant.

Mighty impressive! They understood their audience, showed that they have a sense of humor about themselves and successfully turned that uh-oh moment into an viral marketing opportunity.? Of course, we don’t all have Tiger Woods at our disposal nor do we have the budget to pull this off, but it is a great illustration of the value of carefully considering the message and the audience before we rush to defend ourselves.