Is Any Publicity Always Good Publicity?
Andrie Penta looks to see if this is true.
“I don't care what they say about me as long as they spell my name right”, was the PR phenomenon until recently. I can clearly recall people telling me, “any advertising is good advertising” and “there is no such thing as bad publicity” - everything believable until you get into the PR game.
From a theoretical side of view, as long as people are talking about you, it’s a good thing, simply because your name is on the top of people’s minds, keeping you relevant. In some cases, this is true and acceptable, but what happens in the cases of well-known brands such as BP? I am sure they did not enjoy being on top of peoples’ minds for the worst oil spill in US history. The same goes for Toyota, which had to recall faulty and dangerous vehicles and bear a 10% sales drop.
There are numerous examples of people and brands that have been hugely affected by bad publicity, therefore the claim that no publicity can do harm is clearly open to question.
While all of the brands I mentioned can and likely will eventually recover, the bad publicity they’ve received has done some serious damage for at least the short term and maybe longer.
Therefore, I would feel more comfortable in claiming that all publicity is good if it is intelligent and well-targeted.
There are businesses that aim for publicity of any sort and prepare wrong material for the wrong audience. They share valuable content in exchange for a tiny credit on an obscure website in the often unrealistic hope that this effort will somehow extend their reach and strengthen their brand presence.
In some cases, it does. If you're promoting the grand opening of Grandma's Italian Restaurant, you want to spread the word in the local community far and wide, so you send a press release to every nearby media outlet. Or, if you've just written a book about general business management practices, you offer business Web portals the opportunity to excerpt from your book. In most situations, however, a targeted approach is more effective.
Blanketing the masses with your press releases, pitches and content has too many potential drawbacks. Here are four:
1. Promoting your news to those who aren't likely to ever become your clients or customers is a waste of time and financial resources.
2. Poor PR and content placement runs the risk of driving traffic away from your own website.
3. If the outlet where your news or content appears has a less than stellar reputation or is packed with cheap pay-per-click ads and unedited or unfocused content, being associated with it can harm your reputation and brand.
4. Giving away valuable content may benefit the recipient more than it benefits your business or brand. By contrast, posting content on your own site may be a better way to use and disseminate it.
The most effective use of your public relations and content marketing dollar is to target your appeals to editors, reporters, bloggers and other influencers who have previously shown an interest in covering news or ideas you write. You might also focus on outlets whose audiences care about companies like yours or who may like your products and services.
Not only is there bad publicity but there are a lot of nebulous media outlets that will print and promote anything. In those instances, your message is wasted on an audience that doesn't care about you or your news. Worse yet is when those who are interested conduct a search for information about your business or related news, they're pointed to a media outlet that has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with you. This deflects readers away from your site and devalues your news and brand.
There's an old saying that goes something like this: "All publicity is good publicity, as long as they spell your name right." Frankly, as a marketing professional, I would pretty much agree with that. Publicity means visibility, which generates awareness that could lead to interest, which combined with the credibility that earned media endows, could very easily lead to sampling or a decision to buy.
Even if there is a small glitch in the system, say for example that the name of your product, service, or a web site is misspelled in the story, then that in itself may be an opportunity for more press, and even more visibility, which only reinforces the original piece.
But what about the bad stuff - negative publicity? Isn't that the stuff that closes restaurants, keeps people from eating beef, and drives political candidates from public office? Well, yes it is, but it doesn't necessarily have to be. I look at negative publicity as an opportunity, which is how I want all my clients to look at it. The public loves a good comeback story, and is usually willing to give an errant underdog a second (or third or fourth or--you get the idea) chance, but only if the problem is handled correctly. In that case, it can mean a media bonanza!
Remember that when you receive negative publicity, you can do something about the situation that caused the bad press in the first place, and what you do becomes newsworthy. You can plead ignorance if you have to, apologise, ask forgiveness, and pledge to redeem yourself or whatever needs fixing in the situation. The public is amazingly forgiving, as long as you are sincere in your efforts to right whatever wrongs are attributed to you. And in doing so, you may even take advantage of that opportunity to let the world know a little about you, your story, your struggles, and the challenges you've faced as an entrepreneur.
Negative allegations can be refuted, disputed, or admitted, all of which gets you media attention. But to get really positive media attention (turning that media frown upside down, if you will), your story must have a positive, results-oriented spin. If you (and your attorney) believe you have been slandered, then you could sue. You could bring experts of impeccable credibility to weigh in on your behalf. Of course, if the allegations or bad press is true (or at least based on truth), you could use the opportunity of media attention to admit it, and pledge to rectify the error. You might even get some attention for continuing to champion the cause (cleanliness, organic beef, or marital fidelity) that brought you to grief originally.
The positive result of any publicity is name recognition, which drives interest (and therefore sales), even if the motive is purely schadenfreude. So don't fret too much about negative publicity, because no matter how bad it looks, you can use it as an opportunity to get a public platform for yourself and your business. Which means at the end of the day, virtually any publicity is good publicity.
Article originally posted on LinkedIn
About the author:
Andrie Penta is a Soft Skills Trainer and Marketing Consultant with over 10 years of hands-on experience. In 2013, Andrie was nominated for the Business Woman of the Year Award. In 2012, through a European Commission initiative, she was assigned the role of a Business Mentor. In 2011, she was chosen to represent Cyprus at the "Women in Leadership" mission in the USA. In 2010, Andrie was nominated by the European Commission, as "Female Ambassador Entrepreneur for Europe". Andrie is a Certified Trainer by the Cyprus Human Resource Development Authority.