Negative Publicity In The Business Domain Business Essay


Negative publicity in the business domain takes a variety of forms and can range in severity from a yearly press release listing of dangerous holiday toys to full-blown media campaigns such as the Centre for Science in the Public Interest's (CSPI) targeting the rollout of Procter & Gamble's fat-free WOWâ„¢ snack chips or, more recently, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals' (Peta) campaigns against beef consumption at Burger King and McDonald's. (Cummings, 2001) While the consequences for a company are obviously not as dire as ones resulting from a major crisis, those resulting from a negative publicity campaign range from short-term inconvenience if handled well to long-term image and financial impairment if handled poorly. (Henard, 2002)

We can assume that product will face almost one crisis in life. If a product is well know it will make headlines in front page of newspaper. In many cases, the crises do not badly impact the brand. If the organisation acts which product belong to response strongly and effectively the crises will easily overcome. After all, if the organisations fail to come up strongly they will lose their image with customers. According to research ninety five percent consumers more offended by lies from company except the crises itself. If the organisation gives the true information, about the crises the consumers will like the honesty of the organisation. (Haig, 2003)

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Negative publicity creates a dilemma for two key constituencies - the targeted company and the general public. The public must first decide how to interpret the negative information and then now to respond to it while companies must decide if and how to publicly respond to the publicity. (Henard, 2002)

In the following section we will look into the effect of negative publicity.

Is Negative Publicity Effective?

For years, various people and organizations have used negative publicity in attempts to manipulate individual behaviour Negative information has traditionally been broadcast in an effort to associate a targeted activity (e.g., smoking cigarettes) with negative consequences (e.g., lung cancer) with the goal that individuals will cease the activity out of either general anxiety or fear of the negative consequences associated with continuing the activity. (Henard, 2002)

Academic research from a variety of professional fields provides an insight that individuals pay greater attention to negative, versus positive, information when evaluating messages. This phenomenon is known as the negativity bias. Simply stated, negative information captures people's attention to a greater degree than positive information. This is one reason that promotional teasers for the evening television newscast typically highlight a negative story. People are more likely to pay attention to the negative information and tune in later for the full story than if it had been a positive promo. (Henard, 2002)

Hence, negative publicity campaigns are also increasingly finding their way into the business domain as issue-advocacy groups use negative information in attempts to sway public opinion. (Henard, 2002)

As a publicity tool, negative information has two hooks that work in its favor. As noted above, the first is that individuals pay relatively closer attention to negative information than they do to positive information. The second hook is that negative information tends to linger longer in people's minds than positive information does. Long after negative information is presented to the public and even after individuals fail to recall specific facts about the original information, some negative bias remains. Ironically, even after a clear and undisputed refutation of negative information is made, individuals still have some residual negative bias toward the target of the original publicity. This is why negative publicity is so powerful. (Henard, 2002)

Non-customers are more apt than their relatively more motivated counterparts to be swayed by negative publicity. Conversely, loyal customers are less adversely impacted by negative publicity about a company. Loyal customers are prone to reject information that runs counter to their existing positive opinion of a company. Additionally, these individuals have a greater propensity to generate counter-arguments toward the original negative publicity. Put simply, not only are loyal customers more likely to discount negative publicity but they are also more likely to formulate counter-arguments to the information presented in the negative publicity. Yet despite these favourable facts, companies must note that negative publicity still adversely impacts the behaviour of even loyal consumers to some degree. (Henard, 2002)

Reputation Management

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Organisations are well knowledgeable of the taste of status and the hurdles in restoring a bad status. Almost 20 years later, the Valdez spill in Alaska, current news piece of writing about the Exxon-Mobil merger involve link to occurrence. Oppositely, Jim Hutton, Michael Goodman, Jill Alexander, and Christina Genest (2001), imply that good communication actions have the possibility for achievement to change minor stakeholders into status advocates for organisations.

Assent to the circumstances of Microsoft and its antitrust legal actions. We can discuss using Frombrun and Shanley's (1990) judgement that Microsoft controls its business and organisation status in a way that interest to the American ideal of commercialism for those individuals that possibly do not have any connection to any of the activity.

Media outlets power organisations statuses are both in the affirmation and aggregate of broadcasting of a organisation activities, administration, and financial achievements. Craig E. Carroll and Maxwell McCombs (2003) depend on a plan setting to express the act media has in attracting stakeholder understanding of a organisation status. For example, in the late 1990s Enron's status as a creative, effective, and altruistic corporate industry achieved conspicuous through the broadcast it apprehend in the media. Enron and former CEO Kenneth Lay were the attraction of many television and print special editions showing off the organisations valuable aspects. Critics confront that the importance of Enron's status may have held the response to the increasing clues that organisation reality belied the organisation status.

Responding to a negative publicity makes an interesting discussion and the following section delves into the various ways of handling the situation.

Possible response options to negative publicity

Pepsi-Cola, affront with a syringe found in a bottle, certify that its whole sales force had authentic information to acquaint to patrons. The media people also broadcast this news to the media. Finally, they avoid a bad circumstances becoming even worse. (Haig, 2003)

Other organisations, however, are not very admirable at manage trouble. They think the good approach to deal with problems or crisis is to disagree the existence 'Crisis, what problems or crises?' is their common reaction. And actually, the status of declining is accurately what the consumers have to expect. Accordingly, those organisations that are cheerful to supply the full truth and nothing but, score points for their open approach. (Haig, 2003)

In succession to, the fact for successful brand management is to satisfy the customer's needs and what they want. As a rule, it apparatus giving a good service or product, at a time of critical situation after all, it means giving the truth. (Haig, 2003)

Recall that individuals, via the negativity bias, tend to pay greater attention to negative information. This effect underscores the importance of a company's response to any negative publicity because the nature of that response can serve to either heighten or diminish the psychological impact of the original negative publicity. (Henard, 2002)

Generally speaking, spokespeople have two alternative strategies to exercise in crafting responses to negative publicity. They can either choose to respond or not to respond publicly to the negative information. If companies choose to respond, they may alternatively use either a direct or a qualified response. A direct response presents a claim that is supportive of the company. A qualified response, in addition to presenting the positive information, acknowledges some aspect of the negative publicity that is typically considered to be of minor importance to customers. (Henard, 2002)

In the negative publicity domain, a direct response may simply involve refuting the negative publicity without any acknowledgment of the validity of the original negative message. (Henard, 2002)

A qualified company response, on the other hand, acknowledges some minor validity to the original negative information yet proceeds to advance an overall refutation of that negative message. Because a company's acknowledgement of some aspect of the negative publicity in a qualified response is atypical, it can lead some individuals to perceive the company's response as more honest and truthful. (Henard, 2002)

Given the existence of the negativity bias, the failure of a company to respond to or refute negative information might enhance the detrimental impact of the campaign among loyal customers by implicitly reinforcing the original negative publicity. (Henard, 2002)

Acting swiftly and with sincerity

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Marketing managers must assume that at some point in time, some kind of brand crisis will arise. Diverse brands such as Jack in the Box restaurants, Firestone tires, Exxon oil, Suzuki Samurai sport utility vehicles, and Martha Stewart have all experienced a serious, potentially crippling brand crisis. In general, the more that brand equity and a strong corporate image has been established-especially with respect to corporate credibility and trustworthiness-the more likely it is that the firm can weather the storm. Careful preparation and a well-managed crisis management program, however, are also critical. As Johnson & Johnson's nearly flawless handling of the Tylenol product-tampering incident suggests, the key to managing a crisis is that consumers see the response by the firm as both swift and sincere. (Kotler and Keller, 2006)

In terms of swiftness, the longer it takes a firm to respond to a marketing crisis, the more likely it is that consumers can form negative impressions as a result of unfavourable media coverage or word of mouth. Perhaps even worse, consumers may find out that they do not really like the brand that much after all and permanently switch to alternative brands or products. (Kotler and Keller, 2006)

Second, swift actions must also come across as sincere. The more sincere the response by the firm-in terms of public acknowledgment of the severity of the impact on consumers and a willingness of the firm to take whatever steps are necessary and feasible to solve the crisis-the less likely it is that consumers will form negative attributions. (Kotler and Keller, 2006)

The following examples and suggestions would highlight the various ideas discussed above.

Example of a positive response to a crisis situation

Despite the fact no organisation should gladly receive a crisis, the crisis does give an opportunity but it is also a big threat. Products crises are a time either win the consumer trust or abort the trust. If a organisation takes a strong stand and behave positive about the incident it is possible to build a strong relationship with consumers. Public affiliation is as; connecting with the public, not to refrain the public. (Haig, 2003)

In 1999, Dunkin Donuts' parent company, Allied Domecq, they started thinking about customer views website it came after when company realize they came higher in position in the official websites on the search engines. To a certain extent refrain the website in the useless anticipation it would finally finished, Allied Domecq and Dunkin Donuts observed the website and continuously acknowledge directly to complaints by emails. Unsatisfied consumers were offered discounts and also face to face meeting with store managers. (Haig, 2003)

The website basically was developed by annoyed customer, David Felton, to let out aggression at Dunkin Donuts' poor consumer service, near future it's a respectable source to the company. Allied Domecq managed to buy the website for the customer and made it a customer feedback website. The customer later claimed he sold website because they wanted to make it a customer view point feedback website. Till now, the website is still running and provides company useful information. Dunkin Donuts accordingly not only avoid crises but gave the new way to customers for feedback. (Haig, 2003)

In addition to traditional media outlets, the Internet has influenced reputation management by giving voice to the "other." Specifically, publics that are disgruntled with an organization can establish a Web site devoted to alternative readings of the corporate reputation. Among those corporations that have had Web sites devoted to damaging their reputation are United Airlines (, All-State insurance company (, and Nike ( (Haig, 2003)

Examples of poor crisis management


Perrier was forced to halt production worldwide and recall all of its existing bottles in February 1994, when traces of benzene, a known carcinogen, were found in excessive quantities in the bottled water. Over the course of the next few weeks, several explanations were offered as to how the contamination occurred, creating confusion and scepticism. Perhaps even more damaging, the product itself was off the shelves until May 1994.

Despite an expensive re-launch featuring ads and promotions, the brand struggled to regain lost market share, and a full year later found sales less than half of what they once had been. Part of the problem was that during the time the product was unavailable, consumers and retailers found satisfactory substitutes. With its key "purity" association tarnished-the brand had been advertised as the "Earth's First Soft Drink" and "It's Perfect. It's Perrier."-the brand had no other compelling points-of-difference over other competitors. Eventually, the company was taken over by Nestle SA. (Klein in Kotler and Keller, 2006)

Lessons from Perrier

The truth never be unseen. Organising information in critical situations is difficult job even holding information will release bad news and organisation lose its credibility. According to Martin Langford, managing director of Burson-Marsteller's corporate and public affairs practice customers and columnist are very intelligent. You have to be straight forward and very clear to media if you do not your employees will. (Haig, 2003)

The customer trust never be broken. A brand is called as valuable trust and relation between organisation and consumers. If you break that trust that will will lead to end of the product and will put organisation in trouble. (Haig, 2003)

The worldwideand global brands requires understandable communication . A brand like Perrier will have to accept if something happen to its brand in united states it will also affect in Europe. Basically brand need a strong organisation refletion that crises can be handled conveniently. (Haig, 2003)

Some brand crises are worse than expected The benzene contamination is dangerous and very bad trouble to the brand associated with natural purity. (Haig, 2003)


Although Gerber had established a strong image of trust with consumers, baby food is a product category characterized by an extremely high level of involvement and need for reassurance. When consumers reported finding shards of glass in some jars of its baby food, Gerber tried to reassure the public that there were no problems in its manufacturing plants. But the company adamantly refused to have its baby food withdrawn from food stores. Some consumers clearly found Gerber's response unsatisfactory: Its market share slumped from 66 percent to 52 percent within a couple of months. As one company official admits, "Not pulling our baby food off the shelf gave the appearance that we aren't a caring company." (Alsop, 1989)

Lessons from Gerber's PR blunder

There should be public respone to the situation and consumer are well known to the problem. It is also wide open to media. Most of all, Gerber expressed they are up to something should come up with new idea or the product. (Haig, 2003)

All kinds of information must be provided in the critical situations. For instance, Gerber well explain the difference between products which are tempered and which product are not tempered. (Haig, 2003)


From the above discussions it is clear that all corporations do need to have a strategy in order to deal with negative publicity and learn from the mistakes committed by others in the past.