Publicity – the balancing act.

It was Oscar Wilde who said, in The Picture of Dorian Gray, “There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.”

This is similar to PT Barnum’s supposed aphorism that “Any publicity is good publicity.”

But perhaps a more accurate take is the Atlanta Constitution’s version: “All publicity is good if it is intelligent.”

Widespread social media is a two-edged sword for many businesses – and individuals.

A post can make you go ‘viral’ … but that isn’t always a good thing.

Take, for example, business partners Kyle Stagoll and Dave Nelson.

They were forced to close their sushi-pizza restaurant in Sydney with debts of $436,000. But as 3 Phase Marketing’s Marnie Vinall told B&T Australia, things got much worse for the pair when one blamed ‘high wages, high rents and Uber Eats’ for the failure of the business.

The backlash was immediate – and vociferous. As Ms Vinall puts it, the pair were slammed “for blaming their downfall on having to pay their workers correctly and not on the fact that they sold sushi-pizza – a potentially under-researched idea before implementation at best.”

There are plenty of other examples of people and businesses caught up in social media bun fights during 2020 – but sometimes, being the target of an online hate campaign can work to your advantage.

My daughter Lyndal is the director of No Pants Consulting, a content management consultancy for technology and training companies … and she points out that for some businesses, being talked about (even negatively) is a bonus.

In an article she wrote for RevGenius Mag, she points out that the annual ‘two minute hate’ against Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte helps make that beverage one of the coffee giant’s biggest revenue streams.

“But here’s the rub: Bad buzz is still buzz,” Ms Frazier-Cairns writes.

“Even with all those sales, there are still people who have never tried a pumpkin spice latte and this will be their year. Others will return to see what the fuss is about. And more still will hear PSL and think: Starbucks, yeah. I could definitely go a mocha today.”

Which raises the question: Should you go seeking ANY publicity, even if it is bad?

For most businesses (or individuals) probably not. The downside can be too great.

But I am reminded of Irish Republican and writer Brendan Behan – who once said “There’s no such thing as bad publicity except your own obituary.”


CairnsCommunications – we provide Freelance Journalism, Blog posts and Media Releases,
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