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Be upfront about the negative

image Smart Cars are these amazingly tiny little cars.  They’ve been in Europe for a while and are just coming to the US.

As you can imagine, a tiny car like this isn’t going to do well in a collision with a jumbo SUV.  The new safety ratings said exactly that — no surprise.

Most companies would have freaked out that there might be some negative press and launched an all-out campaign to squash the story.

Smart emailed the negative news proactively to all their fans. They encouraged people to check out the test results.

This is exactly the right way to deal with negative word of mouth in a social media world. 


  1. You can’t stop, manage, or control negative word of mouth. If there is negative news, it will be discussed.
  2. It will get worse if you try to hide it.
  3. It will go away faster if you acknowledge it.

When you have negative news:

  1. Get it out there fast.
  2. Encourage everyone who is going to talk about it to talk about it.
  3. Participate in the discussion, answer questions, be accessible.
  4. Guess what?  People will stop talking when you’ve answered all their questions and proven you have nothing to hide. It becomes old news fast.

The original email:

>> smart fortwo safety results announced

Dear smart Enthusiast, 

This week the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released its results of the smart fortwo frontal and side crash tests. 

The results are consistent with our expectations and what we have been communicating to you. The NHTSA evaluations and video of the crash testing can be found on their website — We encourage to you view the site.

The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety also performs crash testing on vehicles in the United States. We expect these results within 30 days and we will share the results with you once we receive their final report.

Safety is a top priority for Mercedes Benz and smart USA. All crash data is currently being reviewed by Mercedes-Benz engineers as we continue to look for ways to make the smart fortwo an even safer vehicle. 

Warm Regards,

The smart USA Team

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