When is it safe to ignore the haters?

The saying about ‘all publicity is good publicity’ doesn’t hold—but not every bad headlines does real damage. Here’s how you can understand negative press’ true impact.

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There are two generally recognized forms of publicity: that which helps your company, positively affects target markets and drives greater sales, and that which damages your brand and results in reduced revenue. Muhammad Ali and PT Barnum famously believed only the first one exists, while the crisis communications industry’s very existence argues the other side.

There is also a third category: publicity which is irrelevant to your company’s brand, bottom line and success. Good or bad, this publicity is largely or completely ignored by your target market, like a restaurant with a 4.8-star Yelp rating which gets a solitary one-star review.

Boeing recently dealt with this type of publicity when they were rebuked by former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley for seeking a federal bailout during the COVID-19 pandemic. Haley, who brought Boeing to her state as governor, left its board of directors because she said the company’s struggles were self-inflicted and predated the pandemic.

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