Is There Really No Such Thing as Bad Publicity?

I love movies and the Oscars. I enjoy the glam, the recognition of well-made movies, the debates about which movies should win.

This year the Oscars came across controversy with the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite. While I could go on for a long time about what I think about that issue, this post is about whether the public backlash about this year’s nominees helped or hurt the awards show.

Last year, when the hashtag was originally created, there was an outcry, but no calls to action. This year, celebrities called for boycotts, jobs, and Chris Rock to step down. There has been a whirlwind of media attention given to this issue and, consequently, the Oscars.

We’re all heard the saying, “There’s no such thing as bad publicity.” I wanted to see if that holds true for this year’s Academy Awards.

Even though the final numbers won’t be in until Tuesday, here are some of the preliminary numbers from last night, according to Variety:

  • expected 34 million viewers, lowest since 2008’s 32 million viewers
  • household ratings down 6% from last year and 16% from Ellen DeGeneres’ 2014 hosting gig

There are a lot of reasons why the numbers reached a seven-year low last night: the controversy, the lack of hugely popular or widely known movies in contention, no too-close-to-call actor categories (yay for Leonoardo DiCaprio!). Whatever the reason, the publicity of the last few weeks does not seem to have helped the Academy in a good way.

Clearly controversy surrounding your brand, company, or business can get you front and center, but that doesn’t always add up to being helpful to your brand. Volkswagon saw the consequences of that in 2015. What can you do to control the message?

Don’t Ignore It

After the nominations buy cheap xanax pills came out and the outcry for more diversity in the nominees started happening, Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs recognized the outcry and vowed that the Academy would do better in years to come. When your company is facing controversy, don’t try to sweep it under the rug. Acknowledge something is wrong, apologize if necessary, and address how and when you’re going to make it right.

Make Changes

After considering your options, get to work. Take down that offensive tweet, unpublish that inaccurate blog post—do what it takes to let your followers and your customers know that you’re serious in addressing the issue.

Learn From Past Mistakes

Institute procedures or guidelines to make sure a similar situation doesn’t occure again. Move forward knowing that you’re building on what you’ve learned from a bad campaign or misstep.

Growing Pains

There are seasons when your company will be going through a transitional phase and it might not be smooth sailing. Take a step back and realize your company could come through this trial even stronger.

Be Diligent

The easiest way to not have to face bad publicity is to not let it get to that point in the first place. Be proactive in looking for situations before they happen, weaknesses before they cause major damage. Don’t sacrifice basic human ethics and morals for the bottomline—ever.

More viewers could be in store for next year’s Oscars if the Academy sticks to its promise to include more diverse voices into the nominating process, which could send a ripple through the movie-making community. It may take a year, but this year’s bad publicity might not be so bad after all.

Do you need help with your brand reputation or marketing strategy? We’re here to help.


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