- Have effective monitoring in place, both for the mainstream media and the social media.
- Establish a way for communicating to the relevant audiences quickly. Starbucks has an interesting approach. Seriously, building a blog or website to respond to a rumor AFTER the damage is done is sort of dim. Do it now.
- Practice clarity in rebuttal. Weasel wording around a rumor only spreads it.
- Finally, keep the corporate brand/reputation clean and clear. A rumor is a lot less likely to stick if the messages coming from the company are clear and consistent over time.
The most important point here is clarity of response. Fiction masquerading as fact needs to be met with fact and force. You need to point the perpetrator out for what they and their data is – a sham. Don’t sink into apologetic corporate speak.
I also like Starbucks’ response. This should be a standard blog category and feed available to all.
The most difficult thing is determining who to just ignore… that is where “media” monitoring comes in. Good monitoring gives you a feel for whether a rumor has legs.