All publicity is good publicity: Myth or Fact?

We’ve all heard this phrase: all publicity is good publicity, or even a variation: nothing like bad publicity, but is it true? Can any kind of publicity, even negative publicity, positively affect a brand?

The answer is not so straightforward. Negative publicity can have both good and bad effects on a personal or official brand, depending on the context and how the brand responds. 

On the one hand, negative publicity can give a brand the visibility it needs and generate more sales in the future. Companies can even use it to garner support, mainly if the public is divided on the action that led to bad publicity. This way, publicity can make all the difference for the brand’s future.

At the same time, this belief can also be horribly wrong. Negative criticism can damage a brand’s reputation and, in extreme cases, lead to a shutdown. In many cases, customers cannot trust that brand entirely, even after crisis management has been done. 

In this blog, we will examine the potential benefits and disadvantages of negative publicity and what brands can do to minimise and manage it. 


What Causes Negative Publicity?


  1. Ignoring or downplaying issues:

Some companies ignore or downplay negative issues or feedback from customers, employees, or the public. Failing to address these concerns promptly and effectively can worsen the situation and damage the company’s reputation. For example, if the public discovers that a company has been mistreating employees and the company acts indifferent, consumers can boycott their products. 

  1. Lack of transparency: 

If your brand is facing a production crisis or any kind of trouble, the best thing to do is to be transparent about it. Brands that are dishonest about the reality of their company lose the general public’s trust and create the perception that the company has something to hide.

  1. Inconsistent messaging:

 Sending mixed or inconsistent messages about products or services can confuse stakeholders and undermine the company’s credibility. A unified and consistent message across all communication channels is crucial to maintaining transparency and trust.

  1. Repeating mistakes

 Companies that repeatedly make the same mistakes within short frames of time can damage their reputation and lose the trust of stakeholders. It is essential to take responsibility for errors, analyse what went wrong, and implement corrective measures to prevent these recurring issues.

  1. Overpromising and underdelivering:

Making exaggerated or unrealistic claims about products, services, or initiatives can lead to negative publicity if the company fails to deliver on those promises. Companies should ensure that their marketing and communications accurately reflect what they can realistically provide.

  1. Neglecting social media and online presence: 

Failing to actively manage social media accounts and online presence can leave brands vulnerable to negative publicity and misinformation. Regularly monitoring and engaging in online conversations is crucial to addressing concerns, correcting misinformation immediately, and maintaining a positive brand image.

  1. Mishandling public apologies:

 When companies make mistakes, how they apologise and take responsibility can impact public perception. A poorly executed apology that lacks sincerity or fails to address the concerns of those affected can intensify negative publicity.

Companies should prioritise open communication, transparency, and a genuine commitment to addressing problems and learning from their experiences.


What Are The Benefits Of Negative Publicity?


Increased brand awareness:

Stakeholders who have not known the brand before will be aware because of the constant discussions around it. Whether the brand is personal or official, awareness can set a brabrand upr success if the brand uses it effectively. This can mean that even if the awareness comes through an adverse action, it can lead to positive results.

Sympathy and support from the public:

The public is often divided in their reactions to a brand crisis. Due to these divided reactions, the brand will likely garner sympathy and support, leading to awareness and, in some cases, sales. However, this depends on how the brand handles the aftermath of the crisis and how well it can leverage sympathy. 

An opportunity to improve brand perception:

Negative publicity can allow a brand to redefine its image in the public eye. If the brand had been perceived negatively even before the crisis, it could have used the publicity to turn its image positive. This is especially useful when the brand wants to introduce new products soon. 


What Are The Disadvantages Of Negative Publicity?

Damage To Brand Reputation:

When a brand gets a lot of negative publicity, its reputation will take a huge hit. This means that investors may withdraw, sales may reduce, and it will get a lot of negative press. The way a brand makes customers feel is just as important as the quality of its products, and the effects of a bad reputation are far-reaching. 

Loss Of Revenue:

Negative publicity means customers will lose trust in the brand and its ability to be a favourite. If they boycott the brand as a protest, they will lose a lot of money. For example, if a company releases a misogynistic advertisement and most of its customers are women, it will see a huge profit drop. If a respected personal brand makes a comment perceived as hateful, it can lose followers, which may make partner brands cancel brand deals with them. 

Difficulty attracting new stakeholders:

A brand needs to handle a crisis effectively to avoid following them like a stain years after it happens. This means that stakeholders who would have been interested in patronising or working with the brand will go for their competitor because they want to avoid being associated with the negativity. For example, some fashion brands have been accused of environmental pollution or child slavery and have seen a decline in company growth since then. 


How Can You Minimize Negative Publicity?

As a brand, you cannot ignore the possibility of negative publicity. However, you can make solid plans to reduce its chances. Some strategies you can use include:

  1. Ethical conduct: 

Prioritise ethical business practices for your brand and adhere to legal and regulatory standards. When you conduct business ethically and responsibly, you can minimise the risk of engaging in actions that could attract negative publicity.

  1. Proactive reputation management: 

It is essential to develop a comprehensive reputation management strategy that includes monitoring and addressing potential issues before they escalate. Regularly assess public sentiment, monitor online conversations about your brand, and promptly address criticisms from your audience.

  1. Transparent communication:

 By fostering open and transparent communication with stakeholders, everyone knows what your company is up to at every point. Clear and timely communication can help your business prevent misunderstandings and mitigate potential negative publicity.

  1. Strong customer relations: 

Happy customers are customers that keep coming back. By making customer service a priority, it is doubtful that your brand will face negative publicity. Because of a strong relationship, customers will likely bring concerns to your brand rather than calling you out on social media. 

  1. Be prepared for crisis

 Develop a well-defined crisis management plan that outlines procedures and responsibilities during a crisis. By being prepared, you can respond swiftly and effectively to any negative situation before it spirals out of control.

  1. Stakeholder engagement 

Ensure your brand engages with stakeholders, including customers, employees, investors, and the community. This can involve soliciting feedback, addressing concerns, and involving stakeholders in decision-making processes. Strong relationships and open lines of communication can help prevent misunderstandings and potential negative publicity.

  1. Social responsibility:

 Engage in sustainable practices, support community initiatives, and communicate the company’s positive contributions to society. Being a responsible corporate citizen can help build a positive reputation and minimize negative publicity. Even when negative publicity comes, this might be one of the ways to bounce back and garner sympathy. 

Keep in mind that these strategies are not a one size fits all and that you should still have a plan to manage a crisis when it comes. 


How To Manage Negative Publicity Effectively


  1. Swift and transparent communication: 

Companies should promptly address the issue, acknowledge any mistakes or shortcomings, and communicate clearly and honestly about the steps to rectify the situation. Transparency will help you rebuild trust and demonstrate a commitment to resolving the problem.

  1. Taking responsibility:

 Accepting responsibility for any wrongdoing or negative consequences is essential. This involves offering sincere apologies and demonstrating a willingness to learn from mistakes and make necessary changes.

  1. Corrective actions and improvements:

As a brand, you should take tangible steps to rectify the situation and prevent similar issues from recurring. This may involve implementing new policies, procedures, or safety measures and investing in quality control or product enhancements.

  1. Engaging with stakeholders:

 Engaging with stakeholders, such as customers, employees, and the community, is crucial. This can involve starting online conversations, creating press releases, and organising press conferences to address concerns, answer questions, and listen to feedback. Engaging with stakeholders helps rebuild trust by demonstrating a commitment to their needs and concerns.


  1. Demonstrating positive impact: 

Brands can showcase their positive contributions to society or the environment to counterbalance the negative publicity. This can include highlighting philanthropic initiatives, sustainability efforts, or community involvement. Demonstrating a commitment to social responsibility can help rebuild trust and portray the company in a more positive light.

  1. Rebuilding relationships with the media: 

Companies can work to repair relationships with the media by being accessible, transparent, and responsive to inquiries. Building positive media relationships can ensure fair and accurate coverage going forward.


It is more than obvious that all publicity isn’t necessarily good publicity. Rather, publicity is what a brand makes of it. Despite its importance, creating a plan to minimise negative publicity can seem overwhelming for many brands. With the right support, it is easier for your brand to weather any storm that comes its way. Ready to solidify your brand’s reputation?

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