Bad Publicity: A Blessing or a Curse?

Public Relations,Social Media, Branding


Bad Publicity: A Blessing or a Curse?

We’ve all heard it: “There’s no such thing as bad publicity.” But is that true? Take a look at some of the examples on both sides of the spectrum, good and bad.

In a study in Marketing Science, Stanford Graduate School of Business economics professor Alan Sorenson cited several examples of the wide range of views on this. When studying the effects of New York Times book reviews on sales for authors, he found that positive reviews bumped sales 42% for established authors. Negative reviews for them, however resulted in a significant drop of 15/% in their book sales. But, with unknown authors, the negative publicity was a boon to their sales, resulting in a rise of a third. The findings show that even a bad mention in the New York Times was a welcome boost to these authors. Not so for the established ones.

This follows through to other businesses, Sorenson found. For instance, in established businesses with a good reputation, good publicity is of course always welcome. But bad publicity can be devastating. Case in point is Toyota who had a sterling reputation up until last year. They spent much of that year defending its alleged defective accelerator problems. On the other hand, struggling brands working up for their share of the market found that even bad publicity brought them the attention they sought. It was found that even after the negative issue was soon forgotten, the brand name was not. The thinking here is that established brands have a lingering smoke to the fire of bad publicity, whereas a rising company is remembered in spite of it.

There is a seeming sort of fascination on the part of some consumers with negative publicity. In the film “Borat”, it was claimed that the national anthem of Kazakhstan included the phrase “Kazakhstan’s prostitutes are the cleanest in the region/Except of course for Turkmenistan’s.” Though highly negative and potentially harmful, Kazakhstan received a fourfold rise in tourism inquiries after the film was released according to Sorenson.

It’s not all roses for negative publicity however. There are limits to its benefits. For instance, Dr. Vitaly Borker, and online optometrist and founder of DecorMyEyes, took to replying abusively to his dissatisfied customers in an effort to generate publicity. He even threatened violence to some. He then boasted to the New York Times that these many complaints boosted him to the top of the Google search for eyewear. Dr. Boker was arrested in December.

It’s true, bad publicity can in certain instances generate some attention. But is it what is wanted and will it last? Perhaps it can be said that what goes around comes around.
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Business & Marketing Tips: Bad Publicity: A Blessing or a Curse?
Bad Publicity: A Blessing or a Curse?
Public Relations,Social Media, Branding
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