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Law Firm Marketing and Business Development

Key Ways to Avoid Negative Publicity 

Marketing professionals have a responsibility to do their best to protect the brands of their employers. And part of that responsibility means avoiding, limiting or addressing, to the extent possible, any negative or damaging publicity. While there are nuances within each industry that determine what can and can’t be done in this effort, there are some universal strategies I think work well.

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As mentioned in a prior article, I was fortunate to spend the early part of my career in Silicon Valley working for technology companies (See, “Those Were the Days: Lessons from Silicon Valley’s Marketing Culture,” MLF, July 2018. In my roles, I worked with the chief executive officer and other members of the leadership team on various media opportunities — product launches, press/analyst briefings, and radio and television interviews. On one memorable occasion, a week or so after a rather contentious press junket interview with a very influential journalist regarding the state of our industry sector, our CEO entered my office with a look that to this day causes me to break out in a cold sweat whenever it climbs back into my consciousness. He tossed an industry publication on my desk, the same one with which we had the difficult interview, and told me to read the published piece. I did. He asked if I noticed anything odd. I could only assume he was referring to the fact that our company was not mentioned anywhere in the article, while our competition filled the two pages of text. I was actually relieved. Most of our key rivals took a beating in the write-up. We were spared! I guess my post-interview discussion with the editor had worked some magic. So why was our CEO so upset? “David,” he said. “There is no such thing as negative PR. If the press isn’t talking about us, we are as good as dead.”

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