Kanye West in silhouette

There’s No Such Thing as Bad Press, or is There? Busting PR myths

We’ve all heard that age-old phrase: ‘there’s no such thing as bad publicity.’

The theory is, as long as people are talking about you, it’s a good thing. Even if they’re saying awful things, the publicity is still good as your name is at the forefront of people’s minds.

In some cases this is true. For example, American rapper Kanye West is the king of controversy. He always seems to be on the receiving end of negative media coverage, but in his case, it’s helped his career. It seems the more negative attention he gets, the more albums he sells. He thrives on ‘bad publicity.’ But Kanye is the exception, not the rule. Given the choice of no coverage versus national coverage portraying my company in a bad light, I would always opt for no coverage at all.

Negative PR can be destructive, brand tarnishing and irreversible. Just ask BP. Do you think they were proud of being in the spotlight for the disastrous oil spill in the Gulf? Of course not. The company took a massive hit thanks to the negative publicity and has been trying to rebuild its reputation ever since.

So we’ve established that ‘there’s no such thing as bad publicity’ is a myth. But what other PR fallacies are out there?

Myth 1# Advertising and PR are the same

A lot of people think PR and advertising are interchangeable. Wrong. In fact the only similarity between the two is that they both raise awareness of a company or a product in a positive manner.

The reality is PR and advertising are exact opposites, as advertising is paid for and PR is earned.

Paid advertising is definite exposure. Your ad will appear when it’s scheduled. PR however, relies on your story being strong enough to be picked up by journalists. Whether it gets included or not is beyond your control. You may think this is a disadvantage, but it actually means editorial exposure is far more valuable than advertising. If a journalist deems your brand credible enough to write about, it’s going to be far more persuasive than an ad you’ve designed and paid for yourself.

Myth 2# It’s impossible to measure the ROI of PR

Measuring the ROI of your PR efforts can be challenging, but not impossible. Here are some tried and tested methods to measure the success of your PR campaign

1. Press Clippings

Track the amount of articles that mention your company, products or services. The caveat being that the articles should appear in publications viewed or read by your target audience or customers.

2. Media Impressions

Media impressions are a good indication of PR ROI. Calculate the number of media impressions for the period of your campaign, by multiplying the number of articles by the total circulation of the publication where the coverage appeared.

3. Content Analysis

In addition to the quantity of articles and impressions, monitor the content of the articles that are published. Did the journalist mention your brand’s key messages? Was your company portrayed in a positive light.

4. Web Traffic

Measure the amount of traffic your website receives before and after launching your PR campaign. Sales leads often come from calls-to-action on your website, so analysing spikes in site traffic can help determine if your PR campaign worked.

5. Market Surveys

Before launching your PR campaign, survey your target market to see if they’ve heard of your brand, product or service. Question them again after the campaign has ended to see if brand awareness has increased.

6. Social Media

Another important metric is social media mentions. There are now numerous tools available that help you measure the conversations about your brand across all social media channels.

Myth 3# PR is easy

Many business owners think that all they need to do is write a press release and journalists will start banging down their door for an interview. Wrong again. PR isn’t just about press releases and pitches. It’s about creating a consistent brand, communicating effectively, acting strategically, building relationships and being knowledgeable about your industry and the media outlets you’re pitching to.

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