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Can Bad Publicity Be Good for Business?


Recently, I was asked if the old adage “there’s no such thing as bad publicity” is true. It really depends on how well-known your brand is.

A study from behavioral economist Jonah Berger found negative New York Times book reviews for obscure, up-and-coming authors actually increased sales around 40%.

As Berger wrote in the Harvard Business Review, “When an established brand is at stake … it’s smart to make an effort to limit bad press. But if the negative publicity seems likely to increase brand awareness, smaller or unknown brands would often do better to let it go.”

Glenn Gillen, APR, S&A Communications

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