When someone in the media says something wrong about our industry — which happens a lot these days — it’s easy to get angry. That was Susan Mang’s initial response when she saw a Glamour article titled, “Just Say No to Fake Nails” (April 1998). She was tempted to rip the page right out of the magazine so her clients wouldn’t see it, but she took a moment and thought, why not allow them to make up their own minds? Mang put her views in writing, spelling out all the reasons she values “fake nails,” and placed the article and her rebuttal side by side in a frame that she hung in the salon.

While it may feel good to blow off steam, Cleveland-based public relations expert Jayne Morehouse believes that there are more constructive ways to handle bad press than to dash off an angry letter or phone call. “You need to educate critics of the nail industry. You have to get the editor (or TV reporter) to care about the nail business as much as you do,” she says. Morehouse’s tips for writing an effective letter to the editor begin with calming down and arming yourself with the facts:

How to Complain Constructively

  1. Never send a letter “To Whom It May Concern.” Write to the editor or the person who wrote the story. Address her respectfully throughout your letter no matter how angry you are at the moment.
  2. Keep your letter short and simple.
  3. Make your point and back it up. Give any relevant information about you and your business that supports your point Giver numbers of percentages, if possible. Use this as an opportunity to educate.
  4. Do not get emotional. If your letter is unprofessional or over-emotional all the editor has to do is run a small expert from it in her magazine and let you discredit yourself on behalf of the entire nail industry.
  5. You must use correct grammar and spelling — you are writing to a professional writer.
  6. To close your letter, summaries your point, thank the editor for her time, and let her know how to contact you for more information. Make yourself available the next time she’s writing or assigning an article about nails. Include your business card and write “Great source for nail editorial” on the back.

When a negative article on artificial nails came out in Glamour, salon owner Susan Mang (above) decided to let her clients at The Birdcage Hair Studio in Tonawanda, N.Y, examine both sides of the issue by displaying the article along with a rebuttal. Based on an informal survey of artificial nail-wearers, she emphasized several advantages — artificial nails require less maintenance than most people’s natural nails; polish adheres better to the surface of an artificial nail; artificial nail can help break nail biting habits and correct flaws in the natura1 nail.

Best of all, they’re feminine, professional, and look perfect.

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