Clichés and stereotypes exist for a reason, but more often than not there is an exception to the rule. “No publicity is bad publicity,” is an over-used and well-known expression that people like to say when something negative happens. This is such a popular phrase because even if the publicity is negative, the person or issue is still being talked about and will be at the forefront of people’s minds. Additionally, in the eyes of publicists, the only thing that is “worse” than being talked about negatively, is to not be talked about at all.
However this is not always true. Take Ray Rice as a prime example: In February of 2014, a shocking video was released of Rice assaulting his fiancé, and by September he was suspended indefinitely from the NFL. In a situation like this, no amount of publicity is good. In fact, the loss of his career can be attributed to the negative publicity, as no criminal charges were made until the story was brought to the press and the NFL was forced to act. Incidentally, Rice has been reinstated by the NFL after an appeal and he is currently a free agent, not signed by any team. It is likely that he will never be signed to any team due to all of the negative publicity that surrounds him. No franchise would care to have that type of scandal and negative association attached to their team.
For the most part, this expression is accurate, but there will always be situations where there is no damage control that can be done after a wave of negative publicity. This is why PR professionals are so important and why there is a focus on issue and crisis management. Any large company facing a scandal of any size should seek council for issues or crises, whether externally from a PR firm, or an internal crisis management sector. Large corporations will almost always bounce back from a crisis, but it is how they handle it that will offer them longevity and consumer retention. Small companies, however will require a much more careful PR plan in order to ensure they come out on top of a crisis. The rap sheet of firms that have suffered from major publicity scandals is never ending, but eventually the chatter ceases and firms can get back to business as usual.
For any size company, a proactive perspective is always better than a reactive one. It is in a company’s best interest to be prepared for the worst, and monitor their actions to avoid scandals. Minimizing risk before a scandal occurs will result in an easier resolution should one occur.