You hear all the time that any publicity is good publicity. People in show business, politics, the arts, and even in the non-profits will repeat it like a mantra. It’s one of those things that turns into an idea that ‘everyone knows.’ Be suspicious of the ideas that ‘everyone knows.’
Is bad press good sometimes? Yes. Bad press is good when you’re really obscure. When you’re really obscure, any press really is good press, because you need all of the attention that you can get. If no one is paying attention to what you sell or what you do or your message, getting people to interact with you at all really is great.
This is one of the reasons why a lot of the content on the Internet seems to be made entirely for shock value. Everyone is not just obscure on the Internet but painfully obscure. They really do need all of the help that they can get, and that often means pandering to as many people as possible and in every way. That’s how you succeed in a marketplace that is several crowded marketplaces in one.
However, if you’re already popular, bad press is actually bad. In fact, it’s enough to sink a lot of people’s careers in some cases. Many people who have already managed to capture the public’s imagination managed to fail shortly afterward purely because they attracted enough bad press to make it happen. Even a little bit of bad press can ruin the careers of politicians.
It should be noted that the line between good and bad press can be complicated these days, especially since many people are in a situation in which they’re separating the media truths from the media lies. It’s difficult for people to be able to find anything reliable in a world where everything is about the shock value and it feels like almost everything that people do is about click bait and trying to get as much vulgar attention as possible. In short, in this world, it feels like all press is bad press anyway, and it can be hard to determine where the line should be drawn.
However, people need to avoid the generalizations about the press. You really are more likely to hurt your reputation with a lot of the press that people receive today. The bad press is going to spread like wildfire on the Internet. The flames of a wildfire on the Internet really do burn forever. Things that people said twenty years ago can haunt people when they resurface on the Internet, and this sort of thing happens all the time. If it’s not twenty years ago but was, in fact, twenty seconds ago, it’s even worse.
All of the bad press is going to be all over social media. People on social media will spend hours and hours doing nothing but talking about it. The bad press is going to be over every single Internet news channel and station. Basically, if bad press is really bad, you’re going to get the Internet going after you, and that’s just the sort of thing that can cause you to retreat forever.
It should also be noted that even for the obscure people, bad press could still be bad. Maybe you’ll get a few moments of infamy disguised as fame, but then people will move onto the next bout of outrage for the day. Hatred can be eternal on the Internet. It can also be very fleeting, and it will be more fleeting the more obscure that you were initially.