By Brandon Quach, Managing Editor
Amid the roaring cheers of applauding fans and the sensory overload provided by smoke machines and concert lighting, N.W.A. members give a brief talk on the freedom of speech during their 1989 Detroit concert. Immediately after, the group starts to perform their controversial hit “F*** tha Police” after being warned not to with the threat of being arrested. Not half way through the song, members of N.W.A. notice police officers rushing the stage, chasing the group out of the arena and promptly arresting them. “Straight Outta Compton” captures the heart of that event and what it meant for the first amendment and hip hop. With Eazy-E later saying to fellow group members something akin to “there’s no such thing as bad publicity.”
While Ice Cube has a different recollection of that event than the film does, there should still be some thought put into what Eazy-E has to say about publicity. We’ve all heard in the past that all press is good press, but is this really the truth?
Recently Donald Trump has been in the news for his often controversial statements as well as his run for presidency and hope to be chosen as the representative for the Republican Party. As talked about by Jon Carey in a previous post on our blog, Trump has lost quite a bit due to his comments, however, recent political polls show an increase in his popularity. Trump is riding the wave of publicity he created for himself like the businessman he is in hopes of it aiding in him eventually taking over the White House.
Does anyone care about this anymore?
Then there is Kanye West and Kim Kardashian West, two people that thrive off of bad publicity. West is a musical genius to some and an arrogant jerk to others, but the more he gets talked about, the more relevant he and his music become. Same with his spouse and her controversial “Break the Internet” photo shoot for Paper magazine. Her image was shared and shared over and over again, usually with articles about how horrible she is or about a social justice issue she is representing. Nonetheless, her pictures were shared and her brand was kept relevant in society for at least a few more weeks.
It’s easy to look at examples of celebrities or companies doing something bad but coming out on top, like Chik-Fil-A and their record breaking sales day after their chief operating officer’s remarks opposing gay marriage. However, for every case of bad publicity leading to a positive outcome there are probably twice the cases of bad publicity leading to a bad outcome.
Recently, Bill Cosby has been in the news for sexual harassment and rape charges, hurting his brand and personal life. Malaysia Airlines profits have dived since they lost track of two of their flights. BP had its stocks take a plunge after poorly handling their oil spill. Tiger Woods lost huge endorsement deals after his affair controversy broke out. Even Trump, despite leading in popularity, has lost quite a bit of support from big businesses due to his controversial statements. Plus, since leading in popularity polls has often been a misleading way to judge who will win the nomination, his controversies probably won’t end up with him in the White House. Plenty of examples of bad publicity being bad publicity.
It’s clear to see from any quick Google search that the old saying “there’s no such thing as bad publicity” is a myth that should be forgotten. Sorry, Eazy-E.
Long before I even got into the PR game, I’d always heard people say “there’s no such thing as bad publicity.” The theory is that as long as people are talking about you, it’s a good thing. Even if they’re saying awful things about you or your company, the publicity is supposed to still be good because your name is on the top of people’s minds, keeping you relevant.
And in some cases, this is true. Just the other day, we talked about how Kanye West is the king of controversy. The hip hop superstar seems to always be on the receiving end of negative media coverage, but in his case, it’s actually served to help his career. It seems like the more negative attention he gets, the more people buy his albums. In short, he thrives on the “bad publicity.”
But Kanye is the exception, not the rule. The idea that there’s no such thing as bad publicity is laughable. It’s totally insane.
Just ask BP. Do you think they enjoyed being in the spotlight for the disastrous oil spill in the Gulf? Do you think they enjoyed having people boycott their fueling stations? Do you think they thought it was cool that there was a BP oil spill Halloween costume?
Of course they didn’t. The company took a massive hit thanks to all of the negative publicity. They’ve already spent millions trying to rebuild their image through a PPC campaign, TV commercials, and more.
And what about Toyota? How do you think all of those recalls over faulty, dangerous vehicles worked out for them? Last time I checked, their sales were down nearly 10%, and their competitors were making huge gains.
Oh, and let’s not forget about Tiger Woods. It’s been exactly one year since his scandal, and the public hasn’t viewed the athlete the same ever since. Thanks to the negative publicity, Tiger Woods lost numerous sponsors, including Accenture and AT&T. You think he enjoyed the negative media attention? You think Tiger feels there’s no such thing as bad publicity?
Somehow, I doubt it.
I could go on and on with examples of how bad publicity has hurt brands of all sizes, but I think you’re starting to get the point. The truth is there is such a thing as bad publicity. And 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.
What do you think? Do you believe that all publicity is good publicity? Why or why not?
This article is written by Mickie Kennedy, founder of eReleases (http://www.ereleases.com), the online leader in affordable press release distribution. Download your free copy of 7 Cheap PR Tactics for Success in Any Economy here: http://www.ereleases.com/free-offer/cheap-pr-tactics/