There IS Such Thing As Bad Publicity

In the age of social media, the old saying that “There’s no such thing as bad publicity” no longer applies. There IS such thing as bad publicity and plenty of high profile celebrities and athletes have experienced this first hand. In the 20th century, when all publicity consisted of what writers published about the rich and famous, a lot of times the celebrities would have many of their vices protected by these writers due to the fact that the writers needed them to help with their career much more than the celebrities needed the writers. In professional baseball, superstars like Babe Ruth and Mickey Mantle were far from saint like figures, however, the sports writers and media members generally portrayed them in a good light and they were beloved by so many. These writers knew that they weren’t the best of guys and that they were up until 2 or 3 am taking part in activities that they probably should have stayed away from, but the writers needed these larger than life figures to provide them with stories on a regular basis, so they were not about to put these heroes on blast on the front page of the New York Times. Now that were in a time where most of the publicity that celebrities get is self imposed via their social media profiles, a lot of them do not do a great job of protecting themselves from a mass amount of criticism and hate. You see some celebrities posting anything ill advised from racist and bigoted tweets like Alec Baldwin going on a twitter rant against a homosexual reporter, to college football star Cardale Jones tweeting about how he didn’t go to Ohio State to play school.


Of course social media provides so many benefits to our society and even allows us average Joes an incredible amount of access into the lives of our favorite celebrities in a way that we were never able to experience prior to these social media platforms. These celebrities often need to use social media to promote their brand and it can help make them more popular and provide them with more income through sponsored posts. However, often times there is a price to pay with the freedom that social media provides people and, more often than not, it is at the expense of the celebrities’ reputations.

Many instances of celebrities making poor decisions on social media come from college and professional athletes. Because of this, the NFL has decided to hold an annual symposium for rookie players, in which they invite former players and coaches to come speak to the young players about the dangers of excessive spending, partying, and the dangers of posting on social media. We’re all told in high school and college that the things we post on social media are permanently on the internet and that it could have negative effects on your college and job prospects. However, making ignorant social media posts often doesn’t have major life changing effects on regular people the way it does for high profile athletes. Having something bad posted to their social media profiles can change their reputation forever and cost them a lot of money. For example, in last year’s NFL Draft, many people considered Ole Miss’ Left Tackle Laremy Tunsil to be the top prospect and it was widely believed that he would be the first player chosen in the draft. Unfortunately for Mr. Tunsil, someone hacked into his twitter account about 30 minutes before the draft started and posted a video from his freshman year in which he is smoking marijuana through a bong gas mask. The video immediately went viral and several teams decided to pass on him because they did not want to have to deal with that PR nightmare and possible further character issues. He ultimately was drafted 13th by the Miami Dolphins. While he will still be making millions of dollars as an NFL player, his slide from first to thirteenth due to a social media blunder was the difference in him signing a $12 million contract rather than the $27 million he would’ve gotten as the top pick. This just goes to show the major effects that social media can have on high profile people.


One of the best things to come out of the NFL’s rookie symposium was a video that went viral in 2011 of former NFL head coach, Herm Edwards, in which he lectured the young players about the dangers of social media to their career. He made fun of the fact that they were always on their phones, engaged in some form of social media. Then he said that he was going to create a new phone in which the send button was replaced with a button that says “Don’t press send” in order to make the players think about what they’re about to permanently send out to the world before they do so. I thought it was great that a important figure in the game is lecturing these young players about the dangers of social media, and he finishes by saying that if they send out “one of those really juicy ones” they’re going to be the top story on his current network of ESPN that night.





  1. Fantastic post and I completely agree. It’s a combination of social media and the growth of smart phones that has allowed the contradiction of the “there’s no such thing as bad publicity” quote. People have always said and done crazy and inappropriate things, but now camera phones and social media make those actions / thoughts public knowledge. All high profile figures should be required to take classes on personal brand development and how it relates to social media.

  2. Excellent post and I agree as well. I think there are two ways to look at the behavior of the college athletes. On the one hand, if they are these public figures, they should not engage in any of the activities that might compromise them or their career, and if they do, they have noone but themselves to blame for not knowing better. On the other hand, besides being athletes, they are also just college kids who sometimes really don’t know better. Blaming them for being a typical college student is a little harsh. I think it is great that the NFL is stepping up in order to educate the young athletes and make sure that they indeed “know better”.

  3. dcardito13 · ·

    Great post! I think this is a really important topic during today’s day and age because the negative news topics definitely get more attention than the positive ones. So, if a popular figure tweets out something inappropriate, it will get that much more backlash and media reports written about it versus the average everyday post. I agree with Ben about the importance of learning about personal brand management, something that many popular figures are not conscious about.

  4. Interesting post! I completely agree and think it’s great that famous figures themselves are getting involved to help with the issue of sharing everything online and the real dangers that entail. I do think it’s even harder for people who are celebrities or high school athletes because it’s more than just controlling what they post, but also having to be aware of what people around them post. It’s insane today how advanced editing can twist someone’s actions or words. The best thing in my opinion for public figures to do is to be really conscious and aware of the potential dangers to their career on social media. But as an average Joe myself, all I can really do is offer my advice from the sidelines. Overall great post!

  5. DanKaplan · ·

    Nice post Mike. Bad publicity can destroy a reputation so quickly it is astonishing. I remember the Cardale Jones tweet and it is interesting to see that to this day, people still remember him by this statement. That really is a great example of how bad publicity can truly have lasting effects. Similar to Danielle and Ben, I think brand management is extremely important and for celebrities, maintaining this can be more difficult than we imagine.

  6. CarbNatalie · ·

    Great post! I think it is especially interesting that because of social media brand managers have become increasingly important versus the typical celebrity manager that you see in the movies only worried about the next event. We see athletes like Michael Jordan and Dwayne Wade who work hard to keep their image clean because they have every endorsement and deal relying on it where if you make one mistake, like Ryan Lochte or Lance Armstrong, your career and image are severely altered. Really great that the NFL takes the time to educate in order to prevent this sort of thing.

  7. Nice post. Its really been interesting to see how organizations have done a good job of supporting employees (and players) to help them manage their social media presence better. The title of your post is excellent and spot-on.

  8. zfarkas17 · ·

    Great post Mike. I think you made great use of examples to prove your point, and I couldn’t agree more. I know its hard to feel bad for someone who signed a $12 million dollar contract, but the difference between that and what Tunsil could have made as the projected first pick is astonishing. Really shows the importance of thinking before posting and recognizing that negative attention can cost a lot.

  9. duffyfallon · ·

    Great post, Mike. I couldn’t agree more that social media (and the nature of today’s media landscape generally) has killed the notion of “there’s no such thing as bad publicity”. As I started to read this post my mind jumped to the Laremy Tunsil episode. There are countless examples of bad publicity today – I think it’s all over the place. Bad publicity with regards to the reputation of the person or organization being covered, and bad publicity in regard to the content that’s being put out in the world. Everyone, especially those in the public spotlight, need to be extremely cautious/consideration of the information we share in the digital world.

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