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When No News is Good News: The Impact of Negative Press on Your Brand

We're in the age of social media meltdowns and viral videos, two of the most visible and damaging crises a brand can experience, but there's another, more common threat that actually tends to compound other crises as they progress. Believe it or not, it's good, old-fashioned negative media coverage, no matter the channel or audience.

Nearly 40% of respondents to a recent Astute benchmark survey said negative media is the biggest threat to their brand. It's also the potential brand crisis they felt the least prepared for overall, more than social media complaints, system outages, and product recalls.

It's not hard to see why this kind of threat is so prevalent among industry leaders' concerns: traditional media outlets like television and print media tend to aggregate and repurpose viral social content on a regular basis on their own digital platforms, and sometimes even broadcast on the air or in print. And the more explosive the issue or the bigger the brand name involved in the brouhaha, the better.

So what is it that makes negative media coverage so damaging to brands across the board? It's a combination of high visibility and fast-moving news cycles impacting public perception – including your existing customers – and the resulting long-term financial impact.

1. Negative press can make you lose potential customers before they even consider your brand.

When your brand is splashed all over the headlines and airwaves, it's hard for consumers to avoid negative associations, even if they've never even heard of your brand before. Nearly 80% of consumers form opinions about brands based on they react in a crisis, and another 20% become wary to make high-cost purchases from brands with negative press.

2. Negative press can make you lose current customers due to bad brand perception.

Even the most loyal customers have their breaking point when a brand they buy suddenly becomes perceived as problematic by the rest of the public. It only takes between one and three bad reviews on a social site or public platform for 66% of shoppers to stop purchasing a product or service. And a strong majority of consumers – four out of five – have changed their minds about recommended purchases based on negative information they found online.

3. Negative press can cost your brand even after the crisis is over.

Consumers have long memories, especially when the media environment collects and saves every morsel of information for future indexing. Across all industries, the average loss in global sales for a single highly publicized mistake is more than $4M. What's worse, an adverse brand event usually happens about once every five years, and each one can result in up to 20% losses in overall company value.

But even in a news cycle that seemingly never ends and never forgets, there is hope for your brand to recover and even bounce back from negative press better than before. Consistent preparation at every level of your organization and advanced, integrated customer engagement tools can help you create a plan to respond to and potentially mitigate future media disasters.

To see the rest of the most common brand crises facing business leaders and how you can take steps to remedy and even prevent them in the future, read the Astute benchmark report: Not If, But When - Preparing for a Brand Crisis.