On Marketing: “No Such Thing as Bad Press?”

Ever heard that saying? No? Yes, you have. (Liar.)

“There’s no such thing as BAD PRESS,” they said. “Oh, yes there is!” you scoffed. “Like, remember the time when Miley Cyrus donned a Trojan bikini and gyrated on that Beetlejuice guy at the VMA’s or whatever, and it totally destroyed her career?”

Except, wait…no it didn’t.

“But okay, how about that crazy Trump guy with the ridiculous hair–OMG, so ridiculous, like the bleached armpit hair of an orangutan quilted into a lopsided mop? Right? It’s awful. And the crazy, ludicrous things he says, just terrible. No one will ever take him seriously as a human being, let alone a candidate for the highest office of…wait. Seriously? SERIOUSLY???”

And yeah. Maybe those were both freakish examples of the ONE time–no, the TWO times–when crazy tactics like this made a crater on public regard without totally destroying the career of the cannon-baller (ballee?) who took a risk and made a dent.

I don’t believe there IS such a thing as bad press. However, I think 99% of people who disagree with that phrase have no idea what press actually is. It’s not the content of the message, but the delivery. It’s not what people are SAYING about you (or your message), it’s the fact that they are TALKING about you (or your message) at all.

Bad content is bad content. Good content is good content. But not all good content gets delivered to where it needs to go. Not all heartbreaking works of staggering genius make it into the light of day, to be lauded or picked apart by the vultures of our time.

Here’s where this rant ties into writing. Bad books get made into bestsellers all the time, and great books bomb. I’m not going to say it doesn’t matter, because it does. But press for the sake of press is often as effective as dropping the ultimate bomb of truth and beauty on the general public. Hoopla is hoopla. It will draw a crowd, pretty much no matter what you’re selling.

Carnivals have taught us this principle in spades. Otherwise, we’d never spend $40 trying to throw a whiffle ball into a fish bowl to win a stuffed frog that cost $0.40 to make somewhere in Asia. Hype sells, press works, and pumping up the volume on the message DOES guarantee that more people will hear it–and ultimately care more (whether for good or bad) about what it says.

PRESS, friends. Much like Magic, or The Force, it is neither good or evil on its own. But damn if it isn’t powerful.

It’s not the nauseating twerking of a newly-plucked chicken, but video of said chicken twerking which is so morbidly fascinating, it garners a billion views on YouTube.

It’s not the bombastic, nasal, and bald-faced-and-technically-also-headed lies. Or the so-over-the-borderline racist comments delivered with a trademark zero-f***s-given savoir faire. It’s the delivery of said viscera on every channel, several times a day.

Press is power, influence, reach, popularity. There is no such thing as bad power, or bad press. Depending on how you use it.