Everybody loves the limelight. Well, almost everyone.
Done well, publicity can help you to gain significant brand awareness, trigger customer interest, and build your corporate reputation. Media coverage on a respected national or trade publication can also help you to achieve legitimacy for your brand.
However, what happens when your business is cast in a damning light by the media? Does it mean that its the end of the world for your company or brand if it “goes viral” for the wrong reasons?
After all, you’re probably familiar with how crises (such as this) can snowball to gargantuan dimensions on social media.
Before we discuss this topic further, let us first look at examples of incidents and crises which may cause “bad news.”
Before we go deeper into this topic, let us look at some of the common organisational issues which may trigger negative online news.
These are a dime a dozen. Often, they happen due to mismanaged customer expectations, poor staff training, and the lack of a service culture.
When things blow up online, a seemingly run-of-the-mill encounter in a retail or F&B establishment may end up getting your brand name in flames. Over-assertive shop owners may end up being labeled as cyber-bullies (or the reverse may happen.)
Depending on the nature of your brand, employee shenanigans may dent your reputation and drive away potential customers. This is especially true for industries where high standards in integrity and morality are demanded.
However, not all staff misdemeanors are fatal. Have a look at these examples and see if you can guess what these incidents were:
(The answers are in the links.)
Occasionally, commonsense eludes us when we are swept in a flood of opportunistic emotions.
Take for example this tweet by fashion designer Kenneth Cole soon after the Egypt uprisings back in 2011.
While Cole has pretty much recovered from the incident, the incident has left an indelible mark on the designer brand.
Ian Fleming’s fictional character James Bond was the spy whom everybody loved. However, real-life spies often inflict substantial damage to their victims and are usually less cherished.
Consider the case of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. Famed for leaking high security files from governments such as the infamous Collateral Murder video, his database hacking actions generated a lot of embarrassment for politicians around the world. It also resulted in numerous jurisdictions tightening Internet security measures.
Sometimes, competitors to your business may choose to expose you in a negative light, like the feud between Zam Zam and Victory restaurants where the former accused the latter of conducting “black magic.”
Courtesy of Mothership
When such incidents occur, virality often results as online citizens love to watch fights between warring shop owners. Such sagas are almost akin to a reality TV show, albeit with actual persons in real life situations.
What happens if an oil rig blows up?
While the outcomes of Deep Horizon was catastrophic for BP’s reputation, most workplace incidents do not leave such a long and lasting impact.
Few and far between (thank goodness), natural disasters can negatively impact your organisation’s financial and reputational bottom lines.
Although it has been over seven years since the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake and tsunami in Japan, the company managing the nuclear plant in Fukushima is still reeling from its aftermath.
Till today, the Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) is still salvaging the wreckage from the incident while trying to manage public fallout over its failure to be transparent during the initial period after the disaster.
Last, but certainly not least, acts of terrorism can greatly dent a place’s attractiveness. 17 years after the 9/11 incident occurring at New York Twin Towers, the world has changed how it manages airport security measures, resulting in long queues and hassles for air travelers everywhere.
OK, all of the above incidents and crises certainly sound like things which you wouldn’t wish upon your worst enemy.
However, does all negative publicity result in irreversible damage to organisations?
Consider the following:
From the above examples and numerous others, we could perhaps conclude the following about bad media coverage:
Much as we loathe to admit it, human beings simply love negative news.
According to this article, media studies have shown that bad news far outweighs good news by as much as 17 negative news reports for every one good news report!
Negative virality often trumps positive virality. This is why US President Donald Trump continues to remain as one of the top items on Google searches, trending Tweets, and Facebook shares despite being in office for over a year.
In the world of social media, influencers recognise the power of trolling others to trigger virality.
This is reflected in incidents such as the recent Elle Darby vs White Moose Cafe saga, where Paul Stenson of the White Moose Cafe in Dublin outed the email request of YouTube influencer Elle Darby and subsequently banned all bloggers from his establishment. As an influencer himself, Stenson is probably aware that his actions would trigger both positive and negative reviews while raising publicity that no amount of advertising can.
Elle Darby (courtesy of YouTube)
OK, so you’ve read all about how bad news can happen, when bad news may have good outcomes, and occasions where generating “bad news” may actually get you ahead.
What should you then do when the proverbial sh*t hits the fence? Consider this step-by-step guide:
Have you encountered your share of bad news? What actions did you take and how effective were they?
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