All Publicity Good? No!

January 4th, 2012

Rarely does a week go by when a friend or client makes the statement, “Well, all publicity is good publicity…”

No it isn’t. Simply getting ANY exposure for your business is not a great strategy. In fact, it likely could be disastrous.

When clients make that statement I often say, “So if your company’s revenues start to plummet should we send out a news release and let the world know about it?” “How about if you have a product that is found to be harmful to the environment, should we schedule a media tour for you?”

All publicity is not good publicity. What people really mean is all POSITIVE publicity is good publicity.

Is there anyone in the free world who believes that the recent publicity surrounding Tiger Woods is somehow helping him? It was positive publicity that formed the image and brand of Tiger Woods. It is negative publicity that may undo all the hard work that went into shaping his brand image over the years.

The rise and fall of Woods’s image is a fascinating case study for media and marketing people. His image was as well-groomed and protected as anyone in history—in sports or not. He was cultured, well-spoken, humble, and, most importantly a winner. People love a winner.

In fact, his image was almost bullet-proof. Do any rational individuals honestly believe that numerous members of media had no idea of his ongoing philandering? Many of them looked the other way just to have an opportunity to get an elusive interview with him. It was just an honor to them to get a few precious moments to speak with the great golfer.

Businesses do not have the luxury of such media fawning. In reality a good business scandal or failure is something many journalists in the media enjoy. It has always struck me funny that many journalists despise businesses and businesspeople, but fail to realize (until very recently) that they were working for businesses just as focused on the bottom line as much as any Wall Street investment firm.

It is obvious the goal of any business is to generate as much positive exposure as possible. However, in an era of “Twitter,” “Facebook” and other social media outlets what can your business do to protect itself against bad exposure?

First—and most importantly—listen.
Make sure someone in your organization is monitoring what is being said about your company. While there are programs that can search for any mention of your company on the Internet, it does not take any time to simply “Google” your company’s name and check the search results. Another good source is the “Pipl” site.

Listen to what is being said about your company—positively and negatively. Should you respond to it? Sometimes and sometimes not. A few bloggers have written some nasty and untrue things about my company that I can only hope a rational person would dismiss. Sometimes trying to respond is fruitless. There is a lot of garbage on the Internet, particularly via anonymous posters, that can be dismissed.

But let’s say you come across someone who writes that a certain product you offer is awful and recommends no one buy it. Even worse, the poster says he/she has tried to contact your company and found it unresponsive. Viral word-of-mouth can be devastating.

At that point you need to respond swiftly, positively and honestly. Try to determine why the poster had issues with your product and try to create an open dialogue. If your company screwed up, admit it and say what you will do to correct the situation.

An image of your company or brand is something that must be carefully monitored, managed and enhanced on an ongoing basis. If you lose control of it you can be in big trouble. Just ask Tiger Woods or Penn State or…

(John Landsberg is the president of Bottom Line Communications, a Public Relations firm based in Leawood. He is also an adjunct professor of marketing, sales and public relations. Please credit this site when reprinting.)

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    It has been called “appalling journalism.”

    That might be considered a positive comment regarding an editing trick inserted into a documentary on gun ownership that has come to light.

    Long-time NBC Today Show star and anchor at all three major networks, Katie Couric, now with Yahoo! News, is being severely criticized for highly questionable editing in her documentary titled “Under the Gun” after it was revealed an eight-second pause was inserted to make it look as if the people interviewed could not answer her question (LINK).

    Luckily for the individuals being interviewed, one person was wise enough to record the Q&A (LINK TO AUDIO). Otherwise, questioning the bubbly media icon would have been virtually impossible and fruitless.

    Couric was executive producer, host and narrator of the piece.  Anti-gun activist Stephanie Soechtig produced and directed it.

    In the documentary, a group of Virginia gun owners was asked by Couric: “If there are no background checks for gun purchasers, how do you prevent felons or terrorists from purchasing a gun?”

    Not only did Couric/Soechtig insert a pause (8-10 seconds), but they also inserted “B” roll of the gun owners taken before the interview even began.  There is little doubt the editing was clearly designed to make it look as if Couric’s tough question made them speechless and uncomfortable.

    Couric is now calling the edit an “unnecessary mistake,” according to an individual with knowledge of her thinking (LINK).

    In an official statement, Soechtig countered, “my intention was to provide a pause for the viewer to have a moment to consider this important question before presenting the facts on Americans’ opinions on background checks. I never intended to make anyone look bad and I apologize if anyone felt that way.”

    Couric now says she supports Soechtig’s statement “and am very proud of the film.” However, a few days later she admitted she regretted how she portrayed gun activists (LINK).

    However, the National Review and Washington Post now say Couric should be fired over the deliberate misrepresentation (LINK).

    This is a classic reason why at Bottom Line Communications we strongly advise clients to always record media interviews.  Without actual audio evidence (below) the Yahoo! crew would have denied inserting the pause.

    However, with the evidence journalism takes another huge credibility hit.


    Published May 29, 2016 at 8:30 am - 2 Comments It has been called “appalling journalism.” That might be considered a positive comment regarding an editing trick inserted into a documentary on gun ownership that has come to light. Long-time NBC Today Show star and ...


    In Journalism circles, having a degree from the University of Missouri was often a ticket for success. It is not only the nation’s oldest Journalism school, it is also one of the most prestigious.

    When rankings for the best “J” schools in the nation are posted the University of Missouri is almost guaranteed to be in the Top 10 or Top 5.  However, that may have all changed due to the actions of a single media professor during the recent student uprising at the school.

    A Mass Media Professor, Melissa Click, is shown in a video asking for “muscle” to remove a student photojournalist, Tim Tai,  who was working for ESPN and in a public place.   It is a horrible act by a college professor and shows a total disregard for the Journalist’s First Amendment rights, which is against what the school has taught for decades.

    “Who wants to help me get this reporter out of here? I need some muscle over here,” says Click.

    A video of Click’s actions against Tai has gone viral and has well over 500,000 views (LINK) on a single site.  The New York Times has written an extensive story about her actions.

    What was once a sympathetic media for the protesters has now changed with the actions of students and faculty against them.

    Technically some have pointed out Click works in the Mass Media Division of the Department of Communications in College of Arts & Sciences, which is separate from the J-school.  However, she is listed on the School of Journalism’s site (LINK), which tars the entire Journalism program whether it deserves it or not.

    Click had earlier Tweeted out that she she was looking for coverage of the event by Journalists.  Later on she is clearly leading the charge against other Journalists with total disregard for their rights to cover the event.

    With the resignation of the school’s President and Chancellor the University of Missouri is clearly being painted as a college where the inmates are running the asylum.   Rather than act like a Professor, Click and other faculty members have clearly shown they were behind the student protests against the administration.

    If the University of Missouri doesn’t hire a crisis communications team immediately its entire image for producing quality Journalism graduates could likely be tarnished forever. If the school was wise it already had a crisis communications plan in place for such an incident, but that is unlikely.

    The first move would be to remove Click. But that would be a stop-gap measure since a faculty member helping foment the disturbance was an indictment on all the faculty.  The school hired her, and whether tacitly or not, approved of her actions.

    A statement issued today by the Dean of the Journalism School denied she was part of the faculty and sounded as if her days as a professor at Missouri were numbered. Click has also been forced to apologize in an attempt to save her job and resigned her “courtesy” appointment to the J-School.

    However, a Kansas City reporter told BLC that the protesters are refusing to speak with local reporters and will only do interviews with national media outlets.  That is the kind of move that will turn sympathetic local media against them now and in the future.

    It’s a bad move.



    Published November 10, 2015 at 10:23 am - 5 Comments In Journalism circles, having a degree from the University of Missouri was often a ticket for success. It is not only the nation’s oldest Journalism school, it is also one of the most prestigious. When rankings for the best ...