Fri. May 24th, 2024

Paglia & Associates Construction v. Hamilton – Public Internet Posts & Public Criticisms – Bad Reviews

In the case before the Court of Appeal of the State of California Second Appellate District Division Eight, the plaintiff, a construction company, sued the defendant, a homeowner, for defamation after the homeowner posted critical comments about the company online. The homeowner had hired the construction company to repair her home after it was damaged by a fallen tree. Dissatisfied with the work, the homeowner reported the company to the Contractors State License Board and began posting negative reviews of the company on her blog and Yelp. In response to the defamation lawsuit, the homeowner filed a special motion to strike, arguing that her comments were protected by the litigation privilege. The trial court denied the motion, and the homeowner appealed.

The appellate court affirmed the lower court’s decision, holding that the homeowner’s online posts were not covered by the litigation privilege. The court explained that the litigation privilege applies only to communications made in judicial or quasi-judicial proceedings that have some connection to the litigation. The homeowner’s posts were public criticisms of the construction company, some of which did not even mention the Contractors State License Board. Therefore, the court found that the posts were akin to press releases and lacked the necessary connection to the proceedings before the board. The court also rejected the homeowner’s arguments that the construction company failed to plead that her statements were unprivileged, that her statements were true, and that her statements were merely her opinions.


How you deal with negativity directly reflects your brand. Let’s dive into my takeaways from the article.

Social media is an invaluable tool to help businesses connect with consumers. However, when customers offer negative feedback online, it can significantly impact a company’s reputation.

Addressing public criticism on social media requires a careful touch. The results of your company approaching the issue in the wrong way can be shared widely, which could lead to backlash from your customer base. It helps to be aware of both the dangers and the potential benefits before you engage with consumers regarding comments they’ve posted online.

1. Don’t Divert Blame

Always take accountability, even if you disagree with the author of the review. Take negative feedback on the chin, respond respectfully, and move on. My goal is to move the complaint to private conversation and de-escalate the situation so that it’s no longer in public view. Encourage them to email or call you if they want to discuss the matter further.

2. Be Respectful

Respect is key! Always remember that how you communicate is a direct reflection of your brand. It is possible to be kind, stern, and respectful all at the same time in your responses (like the southern version of ‘Bless Your Heart.’). Always keep in mind that providing excellent customer service centered around respect is essential.

3. Don’t Get Defensive

Acknowledge the comment and spend time processing what the other person has to say. When you do respond, list the ways you’re addressing the issue. If the topic is sensitive or controversial, again provide your contact info and ask them to contact you directly – my goal is always to move the conversation offline successfully. Opening up a dialogue goes a long way.

4. Show That You’re Taking It Seriously

Social media matters—this is the most important thing to remember. All comments on social media, regardless of how negative or outlandish, must be taken seriously. You should carefully craft all responses to convey a sense of why they made the comments. Write a reply that indicates the company takes all comments seriously.

5. Make Sure The Customer Feels Heard

When responding to criticism on social media, it’s essential to ensure that the customer feels legitimately heard. Acknowledge their frustrations, own up to the feedback they’ve shared, and encourage them to direct message you to make things right. You may not have a perfect answer, but making a meaningful effort goes a long way with that individual and others reading your public interaction.

6. Respond As Quickly As You Can

Respond to the negative comment or review as quickly as you can. A speedy response signals to both the poster and others reading the negative perspective that you care about them.

7. Craft A Personalized Message

Negative feedback provides businesses with a great opportunity. Instead of sending a scripted response, take the time to craft a personalized message that helps your customer overcome the issue. Sure, not all outcomes will end positively, but this shows prospective customers that you are willing to help and are active in dealing with any problems.

8. Respond With A Solution Right Away

As a business owner, marketing manager, or VP of all things, empowering your social team to resolve customer complaints at first communication is vital in customer resolution. Posting that resolution or a clear path to the solution in your first response to a negative review will help make things right with your customer. It will also signal to future readers that you’re a responsive business that will care for them if the need arises.

9. Be Thankful For Feedback

When grounded in facts and focused on revealing honest mistakes, negative feedback is a blessing in disguise because it allows us to learn and improve our product or service. That is why we need to be thankful for such feedback, be brave enough to acknowledge our mistakes, and show how we will fix them. Then, we have the chance to turn it into a positive perception.

While it is effective to address negative feedback publicly, you always run the risk of adding fuel to the fire and augmenting awareness of the negative info. My best strategy starts with honesty and transparency – and moving the negativity from online into a person-to-person conversation providing the best customer service experience possible. source