It seems like every time we read, watch, or listen to the news in print, on the air or online, there are reports of people taking offense to marketing messages and public relations campaigns.

Earlier this year, Starbucks’ Race Together campaign intended to initiate a nationwide discussion on racial issues, but was met with resistance from angry customers in person, in the media and on social media. The general consensus was that it was not the time or place for that discussion.

In April, Bud Light pulled its Up for Whatever campaign due to criticism from Twitter users that it promoted a rape culture. On the other hand, Bud Light Vice President Alexander Lambrecht said that it inspired millions of consumers to engage with his brand in a positive and light-hearted way.

Last week, Chipotle caused a stir with their “Which way do you sway” campaign that was discussed and debated by journalists across the country.

Let’s be clear, we do not support or condone campaigns that perpetuate abuse, pain or harm to others. So, what precautions can you take to help your message resonate in a positive way with your target market? Here are some tips that will help you shield yourself from a negative response:

8 Tips for Mindful Marketing and PR

  1. Take your time with the creative process.
  2. Write and speak your messaging several times, sit on them, and revisit them before they are launched.
  3. Get additional feedback from colleagues, family, friends, clients (focus group), if possible.
  4. Ask yourself: What is the best-case scenario? What is the worst-case scenario?
  5. Listen to your gut – if you have any reservations, do not proceed.
  6. Stick to your standards – This will protect you 99 percent of the time. The other one percent is out of your control.
  7. Run anything questionable through your business attorney.
  8. Have a crisis communication plan in place in case you need to go on the defensive.

There is no need to be fearful and it’s okay to go out on a limb and push the envelope once in awhile. The greatest marketing and PR campaigns are those that capture attention and inspire people to take action. Be creative and dare to be different, but choose your words carefully and be mindful in your process.