Posted on March 21, 2012 by Jennifer Pointer

When I was in school, I remember being told by advertising experts that "any publicity is good publicity."  Perhaps in some industries, this is (or was) true. I remember Jerry Falwell galvanized what he referred to as the "moral majority," primarily by making statements that drew negative attention from the press, and some politicians and political pundits still seem to live by this principle.


Those not involved in social movements or politics, however, might want to re-think this old adage in the age of the internet - where good and bad publicity really never dies, thanks to the search engine caches.


Apple is gaining a lot of publicity right now because a few of their latest creations have been alleged to overheat (this is denied by Apple) and spontaneously combusting.  News of a few Chevrolet Volt fires hasn't exactly been good for sales, and will we ever forget Toyota's brake problems? The internet won't - long after all of  these isolated "glitches" have been resolved.


When people are thinking of making a significant purchase, they tend to Google the product to see what people are saying.  If the search engine results return a lot of bad publicity, it is likely the customers will keep shopping - fair or not.  Recently a local young woman was in a dispute with her former mother-in-law.  When the young woman was not where she was expected to be for a visitation appointment, the mother-in-law used her influence with local law enforcement authorities, and managed to have an Amber Alert placed on the mother.  The mother and children were soon "found," perhaps because they weren't hiding, but that young mother may have a bit of explaining to do each and every time she applies for a job or considers dating someone....perhaps for the rest of her life.  Amber Alerts rank pretty highly on the search engines, and when anyone enters her name into the search engines, they are likely to see her name, her photo, and her children's names and photos before they really see anything else.  I'm sure this isn't the type of attention she was wanting.


So what does this mean for your website and your blog?  Some folks still think that generating a little controversy is a good way to attract free media attention, or internet publicity.  Maybe this will work, but it could "blow up" on them in the wrong way.  Remember, whatever happens online will not just be on the six o'clock news, then be forgotten.  What happens on the internet truly does stay on the internet - forever.  Make sure it's something you're still going to be proud to read a few years from now.

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