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No such thing as bad publicity?

I was asked this question again recently, is there any such thing as bad publicity?

We once worked with a client who was very outspoken; this client knew what he wanted to achieve and went out to make it happen, which was appealing. But opening up about some surprising behaviour, in a newspaper interview, backfired.  Some who knew him chuckled when they read it, but most people including some suppliers and employees thought differently, it felt unprofessional.

Being quoted out of context is one thing, which can also be made immediately clear with a response, but a gaffe tends to stay with you, particularly with the long-tail effect in social media channels.

It's a tightrope to be walked carefully. Think about what the presenters of the BBC TV programme 'Top Gear' get away with, how much is this part of the irreverent, 'laddish' tone of the programme itself? When does what they say become unacceptable?

A hard part of managing reputation is making the judgement of what is acceptable or not.

Many organisations are wise to have a code of conduct and draw the lines between public and private spheres. But no matter how much you prepare, something will go wrong at some point.

It is essential when someone has strayed off message that the brand or organisation portrays a clear, consistent message. Make sure all your spokespeople are kept fully informed and know what position you are taking.