“All publicity is good publicity” is likely a phrase you’ve heard before. In fact, we recently conducted a poll on the most commonly heard PR misconceptions on our LinkedIn page, and this was the number one voted response. It has been stated and defended countless times by all except the public relations community, so why is it still a common misconception?
Oscar Wilde built support for the phrase with his famous quote, “the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.” Well, Oscar, sometimes bad publicity really is just bad publicity, and it can be permanently damaging to your brand. Before the digital boom, one bad moment in the PR spotlight wasn’t a death sentence – typically only a handful of people would see it, the article would end up in the trash and people would move on. At the time, consumer options were limited, and people were more focused on the convenience of the service or pricing to base decisions on a PR scandal.
However, in today’s world, the consumer market has endless alternatives and a permanent digital footprint, making brand loyalty crucial to maintain. A negative article, review or tweet can be shared to an infinite web of people, spiral out of control and follow your company for years. Today’s consumers care more about a brand’s core values and social impact, meaning that one negative post now has the potential to become the nail in the coffin for your brand’s reputation.
Negative press also creates the need for damage control and crisis related communications. Rather than spending time on brand building or securing media coverage, PR pros are putting out fires caused by negative press, which in turn costs companies more time and money than maintaining a positive brand image.
The era of shrugging off damaging press with “any publicity is good” or “at least they’re talking about us” is over. Sure, a good communications team is capable of spinning negative press into a publicity win, but it’s easier, smarter and downright cheaper to continually build your brand in a positive light.
Carson Brown is a Digital Account Coordinator at Pierce Public Relations.