Can Bad Public Relations Help Your Brand?

Wow, pretty provocative statement huh? How in the world can bad press help your brand?

There have been plenty of examples of public relations gone bad lately. It’s like watching a train wreck with Charlie Sheen. Your best common sense tells you that this guy is really sick, but it’s hard not to be mesmerized by a person so successfully driving their brand into the ground in flames. Now I’m sure many would say that Charlie Sheen didn’t really have a positive image anyway, so this isn’t the crash you could say is significant.

Charlie is not the only bad P.R. going on. With the announcement by the NFL Team owners that they were instituting a player “lockout,” the “good ol’ boys billion club” made it very clear that their fans were not going to get in the way of them padding their pockets with even more hoards of gold. It’s interesting that only one team in the NFL, the champion Green Bay Packers, have to disclose any financial information whatsoever, since they are the only publicly owned team. We don’t really know how much money the owners are making, but they have surpassed most all definitions of the word “greed.”

How is it that any entity could possibly consider bad public relations to be in their best interest? I think in Charlie Sheen’s case, the fact that the guy secured over 2 million Twitter followers in record time says something to the power of negative press. He’s now in a position to have his say and to have an audience to say it to. It’s hard to argue with gaining that much social media equity so quickly.

In the case of the NFL Team owners, what a great way to gauge the intensity of fan enthusiasm for professional football. If there is a huge uprising in negative content, searches or newsreels, the team owners have hard evidence that they have a product with strong market loyalty and passion.

In fact, as Laurie Sullivan says in her article Complaints Via Search Can Be A Good Thing, “There’s always going to be bad feedback. The real question is how good a job is the brand doing at making themselves accessible.” This kind of criticism from customers can give your Customer Service folks the ability to really engage with them, to deepen the relationship, to show you are a company that cares, and you want to hear it all, the good, the bad and the ugly. After all, bad things are going to happen, mistakes will be made, it’s just how you handle it that can make all the difference in the world.

I’d love to know your thoughts.


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