We have all heard the phrase, “ there is no such thing as bad publicity”. How true is this statement, and is this still the kind of ideology we should maintain in 2022 with social media and online publications at play?
Should businesses reach for any opportunity that comes their way? So many questions need to be answered! Luckily we have experts from around the world that are here to give answers to the question: Is all PR good PR?
Cancel culture and social media can change everything
Alex Kus from Buddy states: “The sentiment that having bad things said about you is better than having nothing said at all is no longer true since the advent of the digital revolution. Consumers also now put much more stock into the moral, social, and environmental aspects of the brands they favor. People are more likely to remember negative news than positive, so bad PR has much longer-lasting consequences than good PR. Better to not be talked about at all and go about your business than have to spend time defending yourself, avoiding getting ‘canceled’ or reinventing the brand to get away from stigma.”
Ewen Finser from The Digital Merchant states: “In my opinion, the mindset, ‘all Publicity is good publicity’ is not true. Especially in our age, someone or something can easily get “canceled” when they see something offensive in the media. Obviously, brands can’t run from this daunting cancel culture. According to Edelman, 64% of consumers say they will boycott a brand due to its position on a social or political issue. With this staggering percentage, it goes to show that brands should always be responsible for how their marketing spills can impact social, cultural, political, and environmental issues.”
James Parsons from Content Powered states: “We are in a society where people can take a gang mentality against something that doesn’t sit well with that certain group of people. These people can take to social media and popular publications in order to tarnish a name and bring a company to its knees. There was a time when a higher percentage of bad publicity still helped the company by raising awareness about them and what they are doing, but those days are gone. Bad publicity, negative reviews on popular channels, a social media movement against a specific brand can completely change their stance in the market.”
Janice Wald from Mostly Blogging states, “I don’t agree all publicity is good publicity. For instance, on social media sites, if people disapprove of what you post, you’ll have bad karma and a reduction in visibility. On TikTok, there is an expression called “ratio”. If someone comments “ratio,” they disapprove of your content. TikTok won’t send it out, again resulting in a visibility reduction. On YouTube and Facebook, inappropriate videos are removed. It’s hard to be an influencer on social media these days if you have bad publicity for these reasons. No one will know who you are if they can’t see your content.”
Tim Clarke from SEOBlog states: “In marketing, PR can help convey the message of the brand faster than usual. Although many still believe that all PR is good PR, it’s not the same for all. With the rise of social media, people can easily scrutinize your brand. When there is bad PR and you are a well-known established brand, this might hurt your reputation that might lead to loss of sales and loss of trust with the brand, especially when not handled properly. But if you are a new company and your main objective is to notice, then any PR is for your advantage.”
Matias Rodsevich from PRLab states: “It all depends on how active you are in managing your publicity and adapting to current news and trends. The brands we consume form a part of the consumer’s identity; we want to support brands that are authentic, genuine, and aligned to our values. Companies can turn bad publicity into a demonstration of strong brand values. It’s also much easier to do PR badly in the age of digital media. Nowadays it’s very easy for someone to get your press release published on irrelevant websites with no authority and audience to speak of, in the name of landing your valuable coverage.
Marketing expert Danny Veiga states: “Certainly not to the degree it would have applied in the early 2000s. With the advent of social media and search engines, bad publicity can reach a national audience instantaneously and stay there forever. Good public relations campaigns should emphasize core values and present the brand as a useful or desirable option for its users. Strategic placement of posts to social media can generate buzz and increase visibility among core audience groups, generating more engagement and brand awareness.”
Bad PR has negative consequences
Gail Sideman from Gail Sideman Publicity states: “ Bad PR is why the crisis communications specialty exists. There are certainly cases in which there’s been so much bad PR for a company (see Facebook) that it thinks that a name change will help right its image. Instead, it only makes it worse. Bad PR happens when you do or say something that’s dangerous or untrue and you don’t take responsibility for any of it. It also happens with lack of preparation when intentions are good.”
Dick Grove from Ink Inc Public Relations states: “Just being talked about in the media is no guarantee that the talk will be good. Bad publicity typically comes from bad activity. Oftentimes, emotions will get the best of leadership and they’ll want to immediately fight back. But what oftentimes happens is a deeper hole is dug. As hard as it can be to offer up a “No Comment,” it’s often the best strategy. It allows the dust to settle and clear-thinking to take over. But at the end of the day, honesty and integrity, in all facets of business, will lessen the chance of bad publicity.”
David Reid from VEM Group states: “ The term ‘all Publicity is good publicity doesn’t still apply to the media today, as bad publicity for a brand can put nails in its coffin. Agencies can see unrecoverable downfalls from PR nightmares where bad publicity is bad. As when it comes to products and services, consumers have more options than ever before, meaning they can purchase with their values along with their budgets and preferences. If a brand island in the media for poor working situations, their customer base can pretty quickly jump ship to their competitors without too much thought or hassle.”
Sonya Schwartz from Her Norm states: “Public Relations is techniques and strategies managing how the information will be disseminated to the public or the media. It disseminates events and news that maintain the images of the brand. As a Founder, Publicity creates public awareness of the brand, business, or self. PR is good for the media because it creates an attachment to the people but not all PR is good for the people or the company because it will create an issue. Some things have to be private and to keep in business.”
Adam Korbl from iFax states: “Back then, I heard the old saying “There’s no such thing as bad publicity”, but as an entrepreneur who has many years of experience, I believe that It was wrong. In fact, a bad PR can have a devastating effect on your business, it can ruin a brand’s image and reputation and put them years behind in what would’ve otherwise been progressive development and growth.
Woody Sears from Hearhere states: “Social media and the twenty-four-hour news cycle make audiences active participants in the conversation, With the general public now having a strong voice, PR can backfire. Companies such as Victoria’s Secret, both saw their images damaged through negative PR.
With the digital age here to stay, companies must make sure to be hyper-aware of their messaging and public persona. It is a necessity for leaders and marketers to stay abreast of a changing culture. Those who do not will find out quickly how misconceptions or slip-ups can devastate their business.”
Kamyar KS from World Consulting Group states: “I do not believe it still applies in our world, especially given that people have become more informed, more aware and they know they have power as consumers, even when it means just streaming music or ordering in food. The world is evolving and PR, in general, has evolved with it, now what matters and what counts is your contribution and the effort you take to fix things when things go awry. Reputation management has become a very important concern of most of our clientele and, for better or for worse. Self-expression can easily turn into self-sabotage, one must be careful.
Daniela Sawyer from FindPeopleFast states “Does the term ‘all Publicity is good publicity still apply to the media today? No! Publicity is not entirely that good these days. There is a lot of unrelated, unwanted advertising through which they are trying to corrupt the already corrupted brains of humans. One does publicity to make sure they are known all around the world. But a lousy PR is something that can be inappropriate for the company and society. Kind of when the advertisement or the content doesn’t go with the ethics of the community and then affects the company’s reputation.”
Goood or bad, PR will always be PR
Austin Dowse from Aimvein states, “I think the term “all publicity is good publicity”, still applies to media today. As long as all information is positive and helpful to the person’s reputation, it will be beneficial. The term “Bad Publicity” I believe is a myth. In my opinion, there is no such thing as bad publicity because publicity by any means will get your name out there, and if you have a good product, then that product will sell itself. On the other hand, a bad reputation entails the reality of your brand. The media will see your company and your brand as unreliable and uneducated.
Ahmed Mir from Sip Coffee House states: “Good or bad, PR will always be PR. Publicity is simply awareness, and even with bad PR, the chance for retention is still relevantly high which is what makes it still a publicity stunt. Bad PR is facts exposed that are negative but interesting, such as being pregnant and not knowing the father. While this is bad PR for someone, this will make it easier for people to remember that person being talked about. Usually, bad PR comes from lies that are exposed and truths that have been found out in the most interesting and detective-like way.”
Anup Kayastha from HeightComparison states: “Publicity has a great impact on businesses. It makes the brand known, and it can increase traffic and engagement. There are times wherein a person gets sudden fame because of negative reasons. However, later on, the person suddenly earns a lot of followers; this is what negative publicity means. You or your business will become infamous, but you should turn this threat into an opportunity depending on your reaction. I still believe that all publicities are good PR.”
Sam Shepler from TestimonialHero states: “PR draws interest to your brand. Interest sparks attention. Attention leads to retention and then converts to sales. This is exactly what a PR does to your brand. While it still depends on what PR strategy you use, the point of investing in PR is what matters. This is something that companies do not have to second-guess as it should be a requirement of your marketing plans. Getting publicity is the key to getting the attention your brand needs to thrive.”
Jacklyn Tupas from Sudden Success Business Solutions states: “All publicity is good publicity” has a strong influence on and applies to the media nowadays since it is the best outlet or tool that individuals may use due to the terms and impact of the media. For me, there is no such thing as bad PR; in fact, PR is a valuable asset for any firm or startup that can benefit from positive publicity.”
Your reputation can be damaged forever
Paige Arnof-Fenn from Mavens & Moguls states; “All publicity is NOT good publicity. You can dilute/damage your brand equity quickly so stay on message/on strategy for best results. It can take a lot of time/effort/money to try to course-correct after the fact but once things are released/posted online social media can take on a life of its own/the information can live on the web forever. It’s inappropriate for leaders/brands to appear tone-deaf in any way in the media or they could be labeled as racist/sexist/out of touch/irrelevant in our cancel culture which can generate terrible/possibly career-ending PR.”
Sharon Van Donkelaar from Expandi.io states: “Personally, I don’t believe that all publicity is good publicity. Of course, it goes without saying that the increased attention with likely lead to more customers but the long-term effect will likely be negative. If a business tries to gain attention in a reckless way, it may cause lasting damage to its image and sales. I think this is especially true for today’s world, which is increasingly becoming more aware and conscious. The world is also more connected. One mistake can lead to years of boycotting, viral tweets and articles or TikToks about a brand.”
Diane Gayeski from Gayeski Analytics states: “The phrase “all publicity is good publicity” is attributed to the circus owner Phineas Barnam in the 1800s, an era when the public had much less access to information about products and services. A 2010 study, “The Positive Effect of Negative Publicy” found that negative publicity can attract attention to products that are not well known: for instance, even a poor review of a book by an unknown author might gain some attention and attract some buyers. However, negative publicity about a known brand can significantly hurt its reputation and sales.”
Karol Nowacki from Tidio states: “Manipulation, spreading fake news, and misleading content – these are just a few examples of bad PR that should consign to history one and for all. Of course, bad PR can give the business overnight fame but trusting the rule “There is no such thing as bad publicity” can immensely harm our company. Bad PR damages the company’s credibility and can ruin its professional image. So yes, there is such a thing as bad PR, and the only way to ward off it is to base all PR activities on hard work and transparency.”
Devon Fata, CEO, Pixoul states: “I strongly disagree with the phrase “all PR is good PR.” Sure, a bad situation may draw more attention to a company, but the effect it will have on their reputation will be much more long-lasting – not to mention expensive to recover from. As the general public has become more focused on social justice, people are paying more attention to the companies they support. These people are specifically choosing to only support companies who make a positive impact on the issues they care about. Combine that with “cancel culture,” and a company who does something in poor taste will struggle to recover.”
Cindy Corpis from SearchpeopleFree.net states: “Saying “any publicity is good publicity,” or “nothing can be termed as bad publicity” is mainly said to prioritize that it’s always better to do something that gains bad publicity than no publicity at all. Nowadays, bad publicity for a brand can shatter its reputation. In the case of some brands, bad PR is a great thing. It’s mainly the case with the deliberately controversial organizations, and when their products come under inspection, they are making the most from the column inches. Bad PR involves deleterious published information, affecting a company’s reputation and sales.”
David Bitton from DoorLoop states: “That adage may have been true when consumers’ choices for products and services were more limited than they are today. Nowadays, there are more brands on the market than customers can keep up with. So, if a company receives negative press, consumers can easily choose not to do business with them because there is an alternative. With the advent of social media and the internet, a lasting, public record of negative press is detrimental to the company and difficult to overcome. It’s also freely accessible to the internet, which means it can spread faster and reach a bigger audience.”
Know your target audience and the goals of the company first
Stephen Curry from CocoSign states: “The statement “All Publicity is Good Publicity” is not intended to be true in all cases, especially in reputable organizations that want to protect it, but it is not intended to be used in those circumstances. The term refers to a person who is completely unknown or has an unknown business. Their is truth to the statement people say there is no such thing as bad PR. Now, how much bad advertising will do for you depends on the size of your company. Smaller companies benefit the most from bad broadcasts, while larger companies benefit the least. But make no mistake, they always benefit.
Cayla Thurman from Rize Reviews states: “In my experience as a Business Consultant, not all PR is good PR. However, being controversial is not necessarily a bad thing. It’s all about targetting the right audience and testing the boundaries without disrespecting them. While you want your business to have a good and respectable image at all times, you sometimes need to go above and beyond, be creative, and create a healthy noise that your audience would be talking about. It’s all about mixing professional and personal skills, so you get to send a message that captures not only your customers’ votes but also their hearts.”
Chirayu Akotiya from Leena.ai states: “Defining good and bad PR varies from business to business. PR depends on various factors: company size, brand name, products, customers, etc. So, what might seem like bad PR for one company might be good for another. For example, negative or bad PR can ruin a brand name, yet help build a small unbranded name, making them visible in the market. The saying, “All publicity is good publicity” mostly works for smaller organizations. If someone publishes about fraudulence at a big conglomerate, their reputation will take a hit, but for local brands, any type of publicity highlighting their name is good PR.”
Amber Theurer from IVEE states: “Sometimes this can be viewed subjectively; some believe that even if a company gets bad PR, at least people know about it. If the company decides to improve upon what people have been criticizing about it, the company could turn its already negative publicity into positive publicity. If you already have publicity, however people have come to know about your company, you may have the chance to win those people over or to change their minds. Overall, it is crucial to establish goals ahead of launching PR efforts and to make sure that all channels align with the messaging at hand.”
’Bad PR’ can be used as unconventional marketing
Nick Drewe from Wethrift states: “Obscure businesses that simply want to gain exposure and recognition can explore guerilla marketing tactics. However, they might have to repair their image later on. Not all PR is good PR, but some brands thrive on unconventional marketing. Let’s take GoDaddy as an example. During the web hosting company’s early years, it was infamous for launching racy, controversial commercials—which often got banned. These ads got people talking.
Yazan Sehwail from Userpilot states: “ I think some bad press can lead to positive growth because of the awareness it brings and people’s general curiosity about trying new things for themselves. In this day and age, where it can be so difficult to get press, it might take a negative angle for you to get covered by specific publications or get on the radar of a particular group of people. Of course, you don’t want anything too negative to be published about your company, but one person’s negative experience shouldn’t be the end of you because of the different needs of each person.
Brian Donovan, CEO, TimeShatter states: “I think trying to define whether PR is good or bad is decided almost wholly in your reaction to the PR. Depending on the reaction to the publicity, you can turn bad PR into good PR. And of course, there are those that still argue that either good or bad, your name is still in the mouths of the masses, so it’s still good.
Brian Bram from Home Gym Strength states: “The first step in using any PR to your advantage is to have a crisis management strategy in place so if things go wrong, you’ll be ready to deal with the situation. What is also key is the proper and consistent use of publicity methods for your company on a regular basis. Bad PR can have a lasting impact. However, having a running publicity mechanism can help twist any story to your advantage and keep the general public on your side.”
James Green, Owner, Build A Head states: “I think all PR is eventually good PR. The entire point of publicity is for people to see your name. Even if it’s bad PR at first, you can spin it into good PR depending on your reaction. All the while, your name is being kept in front of everyone. Of course, this doesn’t mean that there are certain situations that there just isn’t any coming back from, so don’t run out and run someone over with your car trying to get your name in the headlines. But the majority of the press can be worked in your favor if handled correctly.”
Will Cannon from Uplead states: “All PR Are Good PR. PR is very powerful whether in business, people, service, or products. It would create a massive impact, especially if you got a lot of attention. I’ve read an article about a newly started shop receiving a lot of backlash due to improper handling of products. However, the shop did not stop operating. After apologizing, they improved their service and are now considered a successful company. There may be negative publicity, but we should always turn the threats into opportunities.”
Have a solid foundation
Tami Belt from Blue Cube Marketing Solutions states: “No, not all PR is good PR. Your organization can be perceived negatively if it is tied to negative news.This is why it is important to continue to publish stories that showcase what your organization stands for, and how you are helping the target audience. Some social media algorithms are designed to promote division. This is why it takes more good news to get noticed. Building a brand and a good reputation takes time. A solid reputation can take a hit or two if it is built on a foundation of trust. Trust is earned over time.
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