Do you buy the idea that “any PR is good PR?”  No, neither do I.

Yes, your name might get visibility out there in the world.  If you’re battling for visibility for your brand, this might be tempting.  But what’s missing is reputation.

If you want your brand to stand for something positive, then having it associated with negative comments might not be a good thing.  But “positive” and “negative” is not the same thing as “like” and “dislike.”

Since I’ve been in high tech for an awful long time, let’s have a look at the Microsoft brand.  Back in the 1980s, it stood for:

  • The unquestioned industry standard (in the PC world)
  • The broadest set of applications working together
  • Not leading edge, but solid

When someone slammed Microsoft for not being innovative enough, that was interpreted positively by corporate customers because it reinforced Windows and Office as being The Safe Choice.

Innovation is kinda chaotic.

Let’s contrast this to what Microsoft has tried to do in smartphones.  They’re still getting lots of press, but not as much as the iPhone or Android.  And the messages reinforce the perception of Microsoft as out of touch, non-standard, and having lost its way as a company.

No matter how much PR they put out there, it’s fighting a much bigger perception than they can control.  And in fact, consumers point to marketing that’s similar to what worked successfully in the past, and interpret it cynically because of that larger perception.

Let’s change the saying, shall we?  “Any publicity is good which reinforces what you want your brand to stand for.