How bad is bad publicity?

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How bad is bad publicity?
16/03/2016

The saying 'there is no such thing as bad publicity' is thought to be derived from Oscar Wilde's expression “The only thing worse than being talked about, is not being talked about”, but how true actually is this?

It has often been said that all publicity is good publicity and having none can do more harm than good in the long run. For some brands it can be argued that this idea is true, for example, last year our social feeds were bombarded with discussions and protests over Protein World’s bikini body advert.

Women everywhere, and some men too, were in uproar but later that week, the brand boasted an increase in sales of £1 million so it’s without doubt that the advert was successful in getting the company noticed.

They may have incurred complaint upon complaint but with sales peaking, I’m sure the marketing team at Protein World aren't losing too much sleep.

On the other end of the spectrum however, investors and shareholders in Toyota may not have been so accepting back in 2010, when the number one car manufacturer in the world had to recall 5.2 million cars. The move followed accusations of safety issues and a potential cover-up to save the company the repair costs; causing a devastating affect to shares which fell in value by 15% between January 25th-29th. Following investigations into the matter, it was later revealed driver error was to blame and not manufacturing mistakes. Nevertheless Toyota announced that the losses over the recall and investigation totalled close to $2,000 million from lost production and sales worldwide.

For most people, negative publicity can be rectified by correcting the situation and therefore gaining more newsworthy attention, whether you apologise, challenge allegations, ask forgiveness or even plead ignorance, it's almost guaranteed to gain publicity for the brand. The main thing about media attention is that is gains recognition and interest in your company name. At first it may not be for positive reasons however it gives you a platform to speak to an audience who are now keen to listen who may not have had any reason to before.

The majority of bad publicity, if caused by genuine foolishness or reasons beyond company control, can usually be rectified and advantageous. Although the short-term effects can prove to be more challenging than long-term consequence, most publicity is good publicity.

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