Unless you were scrolling through Twitter with a blindfold on for the last couple of weeks, you’ll have seen Kim K on your timeline. Probably more than once.
The recent Kim K scandal I’m referring to, and what inspired this post, is the infamous ‘appetite suppressing lollipop’ palava we’ve seen unfold. Basically, she was endorsing a company that sells lollies that supposedly suppress your appetite.
There’s around 110 things wrong with this whole thing, but what I want to talk about is the PR side of scandals like this – that we see more or less every week – and how they’re dealt with.
The thought process behind the phrase ‘all publicity is good publicity’ is that as long as people are talking about you and floating your name around the internet, it’s a good thing – even if what they’re talking about is you doing something bad/stupid/illegal. At least people are still thinking and talking about you, right? Wrong.
When I was first starting out in the PR industry, Miley Cyrus did that performance at the 2013 VMAs and I decided that yes, there really is such a thing as bad publicity. And it’s usually people who have got publicity for something they’re embarrassed about who say it.
Why is there such a thing as bad publicity?
No work of a PR team can erase people’s memories. Sorry, but it just can’t. Yes, you can make up for it – take Kim K’s attempt of taking herself off to the President’s house a week after the lollipop drama (like really?!??!) for example – by partnering with a charity, laying low or issuing an apology. But people simply won’t forget what you did – that’s just not how our seriously unforgiving society works anymore.
The reality is that more and more brands are starting to go viral for negative reasons rather than positive ones. Unlike the Kardash/Jenner-clan, who are seemingly able to bounce back from every negative piece of publicity they receive, let’s take a look at some of the brands that are finding the attention more difficult to shake – proving that all publicity is not good publicity, almost all of the time…
Earlier this year it was revealed that 87 million people’s private data was shared with a brand called Cambridge Analytica, who worked on Trump’s presidential campaign. Not only has this been detrimental for Zuckerberg’s personal brand (an open letter starting with ‘Dear Mark, F*ck you’ being a pretty clear sign of people’s thoughts about him now) 9% of Facebook users have shut their Facebook accounts due to privacy concerns.
Not the kind of publicity the 5th most valuable brand in the world wants really, is it?
I feel like Uber’s not necessarily had one big PR flop that has led to negative consequences on the brand, but rather a series of flops. The sad truth is that once a brand messes up once, the public and the media are at the ready to jump on everything that could possibly make them look worse.
From hiding a data breach to a series of sexual harassment claims, Uber are still somehow – and I’m not quite sure how – holding on to their business purely by how useful and easy their service is to use.
Was this or was this not the most bizarre situation ever? I still remember avidly keeping up with every news update/tweet/Snapchat that went round from the festival goers last year. They had some top celebs promoting the ‘luxury music festival’ (oh hello, yet another Kardashian/Jenner at the centre of a media storm) but ticketholders were literally faced with what photos reminded of the abandoned desert land in Lion King.
The biggest problem of the whole thing? Festival creators’ ‘apology’ statement – which was literally an essay about them feeling sorry for themselves.
What’s the best examples of brands coming around from bad publicity that you’ve seen recently? Do you think all publicity is good publicity? Let me know!