When a public figure or corporation gets caught in misconduct, news media rush to report the details. Newspapers print scathing reports, television personalities give their opinions, and the blogs catch fire with postings. Bad publicity has several disadvantages for people and businesses.
Damage to Public Image
A person or corporation suffers damage to its public image or brand when negative reports come out. Many people respect and trust actors, athletes, musicians and politicians; corporations spend millions of dollars cultivating brands that they want people to see as reliable and high-quality. When public figures or corporations receive bad publicity, public opinion of them can turn negative. Public figures and corporations find it difficult to restore their public image after it is damaged because they must regain the public's trust.
Loss of Sales or Job Offers
Bad publicity can also hurt the financial positions of public figures and corporations. A public figure can be fired or forced to resign over one bad report. He can find it difficult to get another job, even if it turns out that the bad report was a mistake or a fabrication. Corporations can lose millions or even billions of dollars in potential sales and business contracts and must spend more money to regain its sales volume.
Boost to Competition
Bad publicity can help the competition. A competitor can use the other person's bad publicity to enhance her own image or disassociate herself from the person with the damaged image. An actor can lose a role to another actor because of bad publicity. An incumbent politician can lose ground in the polls to her opponent. A corporation's competitors can use its bad publicity in their ads to make themselves look better by comparison.
Increased Scrutiny and Criminal Punishment
Bad publicity can bring increased government scrutiny and even criminal charges against a person or corporation. Journalists sometimes uncover an illegal or unprofessional act by a public figure or corporation before police or other government entities do. Once the story is out, government officials may feel pressured or may be legally obligated to take action, especially if the bad news concerns a corporation's product or service that could be harmful. The person or corporation could then suffer criminal punishment.