All publicity is not good publicity

Get-free-publicity-noteWhen broadcast media channels still ruled the roost, we used to say that all publicity is good publicity.

Simply put, by getting your name in front of a mass audience, no matter whether this was for good or bad reasons, you could often generate more business on the back of the free publicity than you were likely to lose.

Today we have a surplus of spectrum and a deficit of attention. Mass audiences rarely congregate together as they routinely did in the past and any mentions we receive in the media will likely attract less collective attention than they did in the past.

But, crucially, the news agenda is no longer controlled, edited and broadcast from a few all powerful media magnates. Today’s news is just as likely to be compiled by Dorothy who works as an accountant by day and enjoys discussing the latest trends on online discussion forums by night. And Dorothy, like the millions of others like her, is free to present your story however she feels fit.

What does all this mean? Today, that free publicity you and your PR team fight to create, is almost guaranteed to reach fewer eyeballs than ever before. And those who do see it will experience your message through the eyes of an army of independent editors like Dorothy, all of whom will create their own spin on the message. So that’s less reach for more randomised messages; not the greatest recipe for the good publicity your business craves.

If you still think all publicity is good publicity, maybe it’s time to think again. That’s just one of many out-dated business rules that the social web has changed forever.