No Such Thing as Bad Publicity? We Beg to Differ

When marketers say that there is no such thing as bad publicity, what they actually mean is that if nobody is talking about your brand, you are in serious trouble. While that is undoubtedly true, all you have to do is take a look at recent news to understand that negative exposure can seriously damage a brand’s image and have a major impact on its finances, customer satisfaction levels and public credibility:


Rutgers’ Commencement Calamity

After coming through several major scandals over the past year along, Rutgers University outdid itself earlier this month. The New Jersey school invited Eric LeGrand, a former Rutgers football player who was paralyzed during a 2010 game, to speak at graduation—and then rescinded the offer.

After the university was publicly flogged by the media and alumni, it re-offered LeGrand a chance to speak but the damage was already done. Experts are already predicting a sharp drop in alumni donations and more importantly, the university has zero credibility with the public.

Bank of America’s Math Mistake

Last month, Bank of America announced that it would be returning cash to investors through a $4 billion stock buyback.


In fact, after the bank discovered it had made an accounting error and would not in fact be buying back any stock. As you can probably imagine, investor were less than thrilled with the news. Shortly after the second announcement, shares of the bank’s stock dropped 5 percent.

US Airways’ Terrible Tweet

The airline’s recent social media marketing blunder was difficult to believe. A customer received an obscene image from the company’s official Twitter account in response to a complaint about flight delays. Of course, that image made the rounds on social media and soon enough everybody with a computer could see it.

The company drew more negative attention when it announced that it wouldn’t fire the employee who sent the tweet because it was “inadvertently shared.” Not exactly a bulletproof response.

Any company can made a customer service or branding blunder, but the likelihood decreases if you have a comprehensive brand strategy in place being executed by experts you can trust. Are you 100 percent confident in the people you have managing your brand image? If not, it might be time to make a change, because no organization wants to be the one that proves negative publicity actually does exist.