Is There Such a Thing as Bad Online Press?

bad online press

We have all heard the saying “any publicity is good publicity”, a saying coined after watching celebrities and businesses benefit from controversy. It may be true for a celebrity on most occasions as many, when their careers have hit a slump, will throw themselves into controversy just to make the headlines and then what do you know – The celeb is front page news.  But, is that really true for other things such as businesses or even your online brand?


Sure a celeb like Paris Hilton, who in my mind is simply famous for being famous (mostly due to that controversial video, you all know the one), seemed to help her stardom more than hurt it. But, there is a fine line to all this and you can’t just do what you want or you could become a social outcast. Take the Charlie Sheen brand which has only grown with all his insanity, but will anyone really work with him again?

The same can be said for your business or brand, if you suddenly feel that “any publicity is good publicity”, then you need to stop and think, is it really?

Create Controversy:

For me this is always a winner and if handled right can bring a lot of attention to your brand. In this case even the bad attention is still positive publicity for your brand. Much like the Shoemoney and Barman debacle, which sees two online heavy weights wanting to end their feud with an actual MMA fight. Now, people want to see this and the hype and anticipation has not only been great entertainment, but has been great publicity for both their brands. So, if you feel like engaging in some controversy, try and ruffle a rival or competitor’s feathers. If so then remember to do it in a tactful and clever way, you don’t want to end up being sued and damaging your brand.


If you have the means, why not create something that challenges the norm of everyday life, whether it be your brand questioning the political system or the common beliefs of modern society. An example here could be as Nandos did in South Africa, with a controversial ad campaign – it may have stepped on several toes, but in the end it proved very popular with their target audience. From this you can see it is key to know where to pick your battles, after all, businesses are not celebrities and cannot simply go to rehab and come out smelling like roses – bad publicity can hurt and more so send your brand and business to ruin. There are many more ways to promote your brand online and some of them don’t run the risk of hurting your brand.


In the end it is a balancing act of costs VS benefits, in many cases you can lose control that could see your brand drift over a line that you don’t want it to. Sure it’s great if everyone knows your brand and thinks tiger blood runs through its veins, but what good is it if no one will work with it. From an online brand point of view that could land you dead in the water. It is about picking your battles and being ready to be able to back up whatever you do with a good strategy and attack plan. If someone comes back at you, then you must be prepared and ready, ready to show people that you are a strong brand and have facts and a reason for what you did. Even if you fail, people will more often than not respect what you did and there is always the possibility that the drag out of confrontation makes your campaign a success.

Cale Pissarra is an internet junkie and enjoys writing online content about businesses on the internet. Currently he’s working on finding the best domain registration and web hosting company for his next article.


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