Tag Archives: business writing

Is There Really No Such Thing As Bad Press?

You know the saying, “there’s no such thing as bad press?” Only to a certain extent do I believe this. The phrase would be more accurate if tempered with two qualifiers:

Potentially, eventually.

Lady Gaga, Oscar Wilde

Lady Gaga, Oscar Wilde.
Both adept at capturing press attention.

This is because in the event of bad press, it can be manageable to varying degrees – but it always takes deliberate, meaningful effort, and it definitely takes time.

I absolutely don’t believe, “hey, there’s no such thing as bad press, so let’s just go for it all…” is wise PR strategy, unless the goal is simple notoriety along the lines of Paris Hilton or Lady Gaga. In these cases, I’m reminded of what could be the inspiration for this concept: Oscar Wilde’s quote, “There is only one thing in the world that is worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.”

The problem with the idea of no bad press is that with today’s A.D.D. news cycle and the everlasting searchability of the Internet, missteps can take an extraordinary effort to overcome, although it can be done. National Strategies Public Relations CEO Jennifer Vickery sums up the concept: “While there is such a thing as bad press, the main take away should be that good press can come out of it, provided the situation is handled properly.”

Proper handling would mean execution with transparency, honesty and consistency over an interval long enough to shift focus to the present and future more so than the past. In this way, and if done right, bad press can become a real opportunity and cataylst, not just in terms of spin, but also toward doing the right thing.

What do you think? Is there truly no such thing as bad press? What are some examples of bad press being handled properly? Let us hear from you in the comments.

Citigroup Eliminates 11,000 Jobs in History’s Most Corporate-Jargony Paragraph Ever

Hoo boy, this is some incredible corporate-speak – as in, “repositioning” out of the company… (via The Atlantic):

Cittigroup Layoffs Image

Image and link via: Citigroup Eliminates 11,000 Jobs in History’s Most Corporate-Jargony Paragraph Ever – The Atlantic by Derek Thompson.

My heart kind of goes out to the person/team who had to draft this statement – an unenviable task, ripe for ridicule, no doubt subject to hours of agonizing revisions and edits. My heart goes out even more to the newly “repositioned.” But the fact that this missive captures this much attention (mentions on The Atlantic and Twitter, for example) says something – somehow, a nerve has been touched…

Citigroup Jargon on Twitter

It Is What It Is

This is just a lose-lose all around. The company has to do what it has to do, and no amount of careful wording will lessen the blow. Companies can’t stay alive if they have more staff than they need – that’s just a reality of business. And it’s a lousy reality for the newly-jobless that isn’t helped at all by corporate-speak. Maybe there would be less flak coming in if Citigroup at least expressed some kind of gratitude or regret – but would that really have made a difference? Maybe there would be fewer blogs or tales of PR about it, but the repositioning just “is what it is.”

Man, do I hate that phrase.

What do you think? Ever had to be the bearer of grim corporate news? What are your favorite corporate-speak phrases? Let us hear from you in the comments.
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