News Travels Fast. Bad News Travels Faster

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Whether you’re in the office or chatting to neighbours at the corner shop, bad news always travels faster than good.

It’s a fundamental truth that has hit a prominent Liverpool developer hard this week, prompting North Point Global to pull out of the £200 million New Chinatown scheme in the city.

The company is blaming bad press from the local media for its demise and, reading the reports of alleged connections with the criminal underworld, it’s easy to see why the impact of these articles has been so calamitous. 

It’s also easy to see how such damaging attacks on the company’s reputation could have been managed better to dilute that impact.

While many companies use PR as an excellent way to build profile and generate leads, few embed PR messaging and crisis planning into their commercial strategy.

Positive PR is reputation in the bank if bad news happens; all those successes, stories of best practice and endorsements from credible third parties will pop up on a Google search when journalists or competitors start fishing for gossip.

But that’s not always enough. A crisis communications plan based on a candid appraisal of risk factors is the only way to ensure that you’re ready to manage what’s reported about your company when the rumour mills cranks into action or a problem of any kind occurs with your business. It’s like your home, car or travel insurance – you invest time and money on it in the hope you’ll never need to use it.

Whatever the real story may be with North Point Global, the point is that people will believe headlines.  Failing to influence those headlines with a strong brand, effective counter-messaging and a clear narrative across media, social media and word of mouth allows gossip to spread exponentially. The result can be damage that is no longer containable.

No-one likes to think that bad news will darken their door or stain their reputation. The reality is, however, that sh*t happens and it’s a lot easier to deal with if you’re equipped with the proper tools. When it comes to protecting your brand from bad news or rumour, a crisis plan and a sustained investment in PR is the Dyson in the cupboard, ready to help keep things neat and tidy or tackle any mess you weren’t expecting.

Sarah Reay