Is All Publicity Good Publicity?

December 22, 2019


So is all publicity good publicity? Of course that’s the age-old question that communicators have been debating for decades. You need only ask mega-brands Peloton and Hallmark right now with the controversies that they’re going through what they think. Of course Peloton being criticized for an ad they put up that critics claim is sexist. Hallmark – the Hallmark Channel – being criticized for an ad with a same-sex couple kissing and taking it down, and critics of course saying that that is discriminatory. So, is all publicity good publicity? And of course the short answer is, it depends. Three ways to look at it. First, stock price and sales. Are fewer people advertising or watching on the Hallmark channel? Are fewer people buying Hallmark cards this time of year? And are fewer people buying Pelotons because of the controversy? Difficult to say. Peloton of course experienced a dip in the stock price and that’s never good. But at the end of the day, of course their brands are being discussed, and they’re gonna have to see whether this really hurts sales or not. Second, what’s never good is when an online crisis – a social media crisis – ends up generating traditional news coverage. That’s happened with both of these brands. Now, a brand that handles itself correctly in a crisis – meaning they take responsibility, apologize, and announce what they’re going to do to fix the problem – usually they can ride the wave. Both of these brands have been getting negative publicity in traditional media, so the answer there, of course, is all publicity good publicity? – it depends. And of course if they feel like more people are talking about them and that generates buzz, more interest, they actually could argue that it helps. The third and perhaps the most important point is the long game. Does this help or hurt the reputation of these two brands, and undoubtedly, it hurts. If you think of reputation – particularly for mega-brands – as an iceberg, even if it’s a controversy that passes, it’s like little BBs being shot at the iceberg of reputation. And eventually you get too many of those BBs, they get big, and the reputation iceberg melts. So that’s Two Minutes of Insight today from Sunwest Communications. Happy Holidays.