Is all press good press? Absoeffinglutely not. Media coverage drives perception. Negative media coverage can destroy a brand’s perception and eradicate decades of goodwill that has been built into a brand reputation — be it a person, an organization, a religion, a country, whatever. Here are a few recent examples to amplify the point:
NFL: When the NFL decided to lockout their refs after they couldn’t agree to new contract terms, they had no idea of the shitstorm that would follow. The inexperienced temporary refs ignited a firestorm of hatred that was palpable. The media coverage was relentless. Every type of media outlet (tv, print, radio, intenet and blogosphere) across all categories (consumer, business, sports, etc) pig piled on the NFL. The storm reached a crescendo during last Monday night’s game between Green Bay and Seattle. The infamous play when the ref ruled a touchdown for Seattle even though the Green Bay player clearly had possession of the ball was the last straw. The only way that could have been a touchdown is if there was a rule that said catching an opposing player who had possession would be a touchdown. Since no such rule existed, fans across the country, players and coaches exploded in unprecedented outrage. To nobody’s surprise, the NFL resolved their labor dispute and the real refs were back on the field in time for its Thursday night game. Clearly this press coverage was not good coverage.
Penn State: Penn State and Joe Paterno himself, were two of the most beloved college-related brands on the planet. In the blink of an eye, Jerry Sandusky and his sexual abuse scandal created a tsunami of negative media coverage that was relentless. Everytime something new about the scandal was discovered, it reignited the coverage and flamed the inferno. In the end, Paterno was fired and the NCAA nailed Penn State with a $60 million fine, a ban from bowl games, a five year probation, and vacated all wins between 1998 – 2011. Ouch. Yeah, I’m thinking that press coverage wasn’t good for Penn State’s brand or anyone associated with the school for that matter.
Netflix: I would have loved to have been a fly on the conference room wall when some Netflix employee presented the idea to split its DVD rental service from its streaming services. Everyone must have been high-fiving at the brilliant idea that the strategy would instantly double the firms revenue. How is it nobody looked at it from their customers perspective which essentially meant customers would see their bills double? Bueller….anyone? The media pounced on the story, subscribers bailed and the stock tanked by over 75%. Doh! Netflix CEO Reed Hastings had to eat crow and admit they messed up. You don’t need to spend money on a brand perception study to know that press was not good press.
Bank of America: Clearly nobody from BoA thought of their customers when they decided to announce a $5/mo fee for debit card users. I believe I’ve seen this movie before on Netflix: Company puts revenue ahead of customers happiness, customers revolt, media has a field day, company stock tanks, company hemorrhages customers, company apologizes and reverses decision. Again, this press was not only not good press, it sucked the life out of the Bank of America brand.
Susan G. Komen: Since it began in 1982, Susan G. Komen has had a halo on its brand. And why wouldn’t they? The organization has raised over $2 billion for breast cancer. The funds were directed towards research, health services, advocacy and social program. At the end of January this year, Komen announced it would no longer grant money to Planned Parenthood. It cited some lame excuse about a “congressional investigation” but it is widely believed that it was really a political agenda of a few executives being shoved down a brand and its donors throats. It appears someone didn’t like Planned Parenthood and its stance on abortion. Wah! Komen decided to take it’s toys to a new sandbox and only play with organization who played by their rules. Well Mother Karma happened to be watching this pink ribbon unravel and decided to have her way with Komen. Donors didn’t want to swallow anyone’s political agenda no matter what color Koolaid it comes in. The media slaughtered the brand. And within 24 hours of the story breaking, Planned Parenthood received $400,000+ in donations. After bleeding pink blood for four days, Komen tried to stop the bleeding by reversing the decision. It was too late. Even press coverage colored in pink is not good coverage.
Although not all press is good press, people and brands can bounce back, but it usually takes a very long time. Just ask Bill Clinton. For someone who was caught getting his dick sucked in the Oval Office by an intern, Clinton seems to be doing just fine.
Do you think all press is good press?