There’s no such thing as bad PR…really?

Here’s a lazy comment that comes up in casual conversation with alarming regularity…

“There’s no such thing as bad publicity”.

Really? That is perhaps the laziest and dangerous PR “advice” I’ve ever heard.

Consider #PieGate – the story that muddied the “magic of the FA Cup” and derailed the wheels of good faith that had propelled Sutton United into the hearts and minds of the nation’s football fans and media alike.

I was speaking at an event last week on this very subject and me being me I brought some props with me. Among them were a pork pie, a copy of The Sun and a dubious necklace fashioned from sweets – you remember them, tended to be sold alongside flying saucers and sherbet fountains?

Anyway, as I held aloft the offending pastry and a copy of The Sun I asked what the audience thought I might be about to discuss. Everyone knew in an instant and this wasn’t what I would call a football audience. It was all about Wayne Shaw, the famous/infamous “roly-poly reserve goalie” for Sutton United.

Basically, our Wayne, local hero, grass roots goalie and part-time caretaker at his beloved club potentially breached FA rules related to gambling. You know the rest so I won’t bother you with the details but the upshot of it is Wayne has now lost his job and Sutton United have been dragged into a controversy that has totally taken the shine off of their heroic Roy of the Rovers cup run.

There is no way that this publicity is good publicity. PR is about what you are associated with, as much as being famous. To borrow a line from Billy the Kidd, I can make you famous in one hour. I have the media contacts, the reach and the news nous to make this happen.

Tempting? Beware this Faustian pact! You may not want to be famous for what I have on offer. All of your PR efforts should always be about being known for what you want to be known for, by the people you want to know about you – your customers.

Can you guess what the dodgy necklace prop referred to? I’ll give you a clue, first name Gerald…now tell me you didn’t instantly think of the phrase “total cr*p”. Would you want to be known for wiping £500 million from the value of Ratners jewellers with one speech?

No, thought not. You see, there is such a thing as bad publicity!

Sub-note, this weekend a certain football team had to play a defender in goal after their first choice goalkeeper got injured. The reason? Their reserve ‘keeper was sacked last week….we would never have heard about this normally…but we did thanks to a pie, an error of judgement and bad publicity.