The PR Power of Pain

car accident
What is it about coming off a disaster that makes people so open to feelings of positivity? Is it a simple natural reaction to go in another direction, a rush to embrace a new underdog, or are we just suckers for emotional roller coasters? Whatever the reason, big time failure can set the stage for PR gold, even without any positive indicators. That’s right. You don’t need to provide the answers; merely stemming the tide is enough.

1. JC Penney – Love to Hate to Just Love (Sort Of)
JC Penney has, of course, been everybody’s favorite scapegoat recently. With a reviled managerial bully in the person of Bill Ackman, a series of overly slick and bland ads, and a general sense of corporate train wreck, this institution had it all. But suddenly Ackman resigned and the PR rainbow showed up in all of its glittery glory. This was reflected in the stock price spiking up 4%. Presumably, the love affair will continue until the inevitable corporate instincts reassert themselves and give us a new managerial bully, slick ad campaign, and another impending corporate wreck.

2. Microsoft – Retreat from Microsoftity
Microsoft is unique in that it has established a new base level for soft corporate ineptness. From the tech juggernaut who built the industry, it descended into the lovable fat uncle who was always present but never interesting. Some people were annoyed, some reactionary, but most just accepted and continued on with their lives. Now, with the resignation of Steve Ballmer, it’s as if the sleepy uncle was suddenly jolted with an industrial defibrillator.  The stock, in response, performed a massive 9% uptick. It’s hard to imagine that Microsoft can regain its edge, but that’s a PR headache for the future. Now it’s time to party.


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