There Is Such a Thing as Bad PR


You maybe a firm believer that there is no such thing as bad PR but there actually is. You could try and become famous by creating negative press but be ready for the side effects. From the perspective of personal branding, here is why bad PR isn’t good for you:
You’ll lose money
One of the main reasons you may try and brand yourself is so that you can make more money. The fact of the matter is that fewer people will be willing to hire you and pay you a decent wage if you are looked upon in a negative fashion. With larger companies such as Ford, they don’t want employees with a bad name associated with them since that could potentially damage their own brand. Even if you don’t work 9 to 5, you can still lose money in the form of a decrease in the business you can bring to the table.

People remember the bad
No matter how many great accomplishments you have in life people always seem to remember the bad moments. If you don’t believe me, just think of OJ Simpson. When you hear his name you usually think about the murderer and not how he was a great football player. Although the murder trial brought OJ to a whole new level of fame, when people hear his name they usually picture a criminal instead of the positive brand he had going initially.

The worst part about people remembering the bad moments is that it creates a negative first impression. And as the say goes, first impressions are the most important.

The laughing stock
Not only is it important to be looked upon highly by the Average Joes, it is also important to be looked up highly by your own peers. When you get bad press, chances are your peers will be making fun of you and won’t take you as serious. The worst part about it is that your peers won’t be respecting you anymore.

These are just some of the reasons why bad press isn’t always good for you. The last thing you want to do is taint your image because it will ruin your career. You maybe thinking that people like Paris Hilton have tons of bad press and it does wonders for her, but you aren’t a celebrity so it will not help you in the same manner as it helps Paris Hilton. In those cases, controversy and “Bad PR” equal exposure and separate them from the crowd. Nevertheless, her image will impose a few issues for her and she certainly will lose out on a few options as a result.

Do you think there is such a thing as bad PR?

P.S. If you want help getting solid PR check this out.


  1. I agree with you that there is bad PR, especially from a branding perspective. Once you’ve created a negative image, that’s hard to shake.

    There is a difference between inciting criticism (which can be good) and looking like a fool. Both are probably better than getting no attention at all.

  2. Matt McDonald :

    I completley agree with both of you. People who say that there’s no such thing as bad PR will argue “…but they’re still talking about you!” yeah, talking about you being an idiot or a murderer or whatever other negative thing that will stick with you for a long long time.

  3. Duncan Morris :

    This is especially true online where the bad press tends to hang around… This quote from a study by e-consultancy sums it up quite well.

    “Seven out of ten British consumers will not click through to a company’s website if search results contain negative comments about them. ” From e-consultancy

  4. Imran Rafique :

    If we look at Paris Hilton and the bad press she received about drunk driving, driving with a suspended license, and people supporting her going to jail, etc… We agree that put her in a negative light and her image was tarnished in terms of public branding and profiting.

    On the reverse, Paris can now leverage that bad press after going to jail to potentially make millions writing a book, interviews, and fund-raisers taking that negativism and creating something marketable. Thus re-branding her image, what otherwise wasn’t possible.

    Re-branding can occur after displaying to the community that you’ve done right for your negative actions. In some cases this could be possible and in the OJ Simpson case not.

    Just my crazy thoughts…Great discussion topic Neil.

    • For famous stars like Paris I have seen it work well to some extant, but for us common folk it just don’t create the same effect.

  5. Bas van de Haterd :

    I think there are two sides to this.

    For personal branding, yes, there is bad PR. Because if you are known for scams, for being wrong all the time, etc. You will not get a job, or people will not hire you as a freelancer.

    However, when it comes to consumer brands, I also believe there is bad PR, however, 99% of the marketeers have it wrong on the question ‘what is bad PR’. For example: cycling (sorry, big cycling fan). The doping stuff. Floyd Landis gor bad PR and it ruind his career. that’s bad PR. His sponsors however I doubt if they would suffer. WHen Festina had it’s big dope schandel (with Virenque and co) that year more Festina watches were sold then any other summer. Also more Festini ice creams (with no other explination then the Festina dope problem). So when it comes to consumer brands, there is no such thing as bad PR unless it directly comes from your probuct (cars that break down, bad service, etc).

    So I totally disagree on point 2. People remember the name, not the reason for the PR and so in many cases, bad PR is good PR. Only when the bad PR is a direct result from the product or service.

    For a personal brand, it’s the same. If you are a fraud, if you did scams, delivered badly, it’s bad PR. If someone is just thashing you, people won’t remember.

    • I am not sure. I think that with people bad PR sticks in most cases, especially if it is extremes such as terrorism or killings.

      But I do get what you are saying, with PR that isn’t too bad, most people just remember the name of the person and not the PR incident.

  6. Paloma Cruz :

    “Try and become famous by creating negative press”

    I reread this a few times and it still doesn’t compute. The idea of creating negative press on purpose just doesn’t make any sense to me. I spend so much of my time trying to clean up the aftermath of bad press.

    I do agree that some people have found a way to profit from notoriety, but it’s a very big gamble.

    • Paloma, I agree it is not wise to create negative press. When I said that statement, I meant that creating negative press may increase your fame, but it usually isn’t worth it.

  7. Bas van de Haterd :

    My old boss loved bad press (he always went too far with it, but it did work sometimes). Why? Because a good law suit attrects more attention in the papers then you can ever buy. In Holland we hae companies that would never have gotton to the size they were without being sued. And we love a good David vs Goliath battle, so for David bad press usually is good press. But like I said, doesn’t work that way all the time and in personal branding it’s usually a lot harder to get the stains off.

  8. Tim Schroeder :

    Interesting article Neil. I agree with all of your points but there are probably always exceptions to each of them.

    For example, bad PR (especially in the online world) could easily make you more money than if you are not getting any attention at all. If the bad PR leads to a huge flood of traffic there is always the opportunity to redeem yourself in some matter and turn the bad attention into something good. Of course it depends on how negative the comments or action you took was perceived and the type service you are offering.

    • Thanks for the input Tim. I have seen some cases, as you mentioned above, where people have turned bad PR into good PR. It is very rare, but possible.

  9. John Koetsier :

    Cool site – just found it, and liking it.

    Noticed that your personal branding is not really tied to spelling/grammar/word choice … in this article, it should be “laughing stock” not “laughing stalk,” unless you’re talking about a new kind of hilarious vegetable.

    Now, of course, I’m branding myself as a nitpicking librarian type. Arggh.


  10. Dave Clarke :

    There is indeed reputation damage from negative PR. In the UK we have the expression ‘doing a Ratner’ after Gerald Ratner made derogatory remarks about his Company’s merchandise in a speech. Approximately £500 million was wiped from the value of his company!

  11. Ask John Delorean how he feels about this. I’ve heard there is no such thing as bad publicity. Not true, good post.

  12. However, bad pr gives some kind of popularity I would never prefer that.

  13. Patricia - Spiritual Journey Of A Lightworker :

    I prefer to subscribe as an email. Do you think you will ever add that option to your subscription form? You have really good information since I am relatively new at blogging. Thanks, Patricia

  14. Patricia - Spiritual Journey Of A Lightworker :

    Thanks, I just subscribed.

  15. Ecommerce Martin :

    Definately there’s bad PR. But in modern times many celebrities got to the tabloid by just appearing in the news. Like Paris Hilton in her first “film”. She got definitely bad PR but she’s goddess of teenagers.
    Sometimes it doesn’t matter what they talk but that they talk.

  16. Of course there is bad PR, we have good PR so we have and bad PR. One of my projects had a bad PR because of another website from the affiliate network which had bad PR, so my project didn’t succeed and hopefully it was for good because after a couple of week after the affiliate network (Genbucks) was closed down 🙁 So there is bad PR and sometimes it is fatal to have 🙁
    Best regards!

  17. Turning out from bad PR to Good PR is possible depends on individual effort

  18. Executive Programs :

    Yes its true that there is a bad PR. Once you lost your PR Value, it becomes difficult to regain that value

Speak Your Mind