Is all publicity good publicity?

I’ve had this conversation on many occasions, is all publicity good publicity? I watched a show recently and a group of women were talking about the fact that one of them had been in the media and she wasn’t concerned about the fact that the publicity wasn’t favourable or positive it was entirely negative but to her all that mattered was that her name is out there.  That is something I hear often, people think as long as they’re being spoken about is all that matters.

Well as a professional in the business that has had to manage crisis communications on behalf of clients I don’t agree with this statement at all. Think about it, I’ve said it before if you’re a restaurant owner and you get a huge amount of negative media attention for food poisoning and rodent infestation how do you think that would impact your sales? I think it’s fair to say that your restaurant might look like a ghost town depending on the severity of the coverage.

That’s a hypothetical example so let us take a brief look at some real crisis that has taken place. Look at the BP Oil spill in the Gulf in 2010. BP understandably received a significant amount of negative press with images of the oil gushing out, animals covered in oil and news that 11 workers died in the explosion. I’m pretty certain that bosses at BP didn’t think oh well all publicity is good when they had people boycotting their fuel stations and a media frenzy covering the incident.

Or we could look at the UK supermarket horsemeat scandal in 2013 which resulted in a whole host of jokes, info-graphics and memes be circulated across the internet. Showing just how influential social media channels can be when it comes to the public’s perception. The scandal affected bottom line sales as well as loosing trust from consumers.

Another example is the video featuring two Dominos employees doing disgusting things to pizzas that amassed almost one million hits on YouTube! As you would expect it was extremely damaging for the brand.

These are loads of examples to illustrate how bad publicity has hurt brands. I believe there is such a thing as bad publicity and while most do recover from the crisis if handled openly and transparently the bad publicity they’ve received has done some serious reputational damage for at least the short term….. and maybe longer.

Now you’ve heard from me, but what do you think? Do you believe that all publicity is good publicity?  Feel free to leave a comment!

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