Is aggression ever a successful PR strategy?

Fascinating post at Screaming Headlines which raises all sorts of questions regarding how to address blogs containing online links and comments that your organisation may not like.   

Managing reputation is a critical aspect of public relations, hence monitoring and engaging in online discussion is vital.  But as Pete highlights, in some cases, an aggressive approach is being undertaken, that could be viewed even as threatening.

A defensive approach to public relations isn’t exclusive to the online environment.  Alistair Campbell is among those renowned for bullying journalists – and there are many tales of celebrity PRs who bar journalists who don’t report “nicely” on their clients.

Everyone in PR will have been faced with negative coverage and irate executives who demand we stop anyone writing bad things (even when they are true).  The usual threat from marketing colleagues is to withhold advertising to “sort out” media critics.

But does aggression work?  I tend to use an analogy of an Alsatian dog, who you can beat and bully into submission.  I prefer to train a dog to respect me – not least because they will come to my aid in times of crisis.  If you are being attacked, you don’t need your own dog joining the fight and biting you from behind.

I don’t believe that bullying journalists or bloggers is a successful PR strategy – just remember, they too can bite back. 

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Heather Yaxley PhD

Dr. Heather Yaxley is passionate about sustainable careers, reflective practice and professional development. I am a rhizomatic educator, practitioner, consultant, academic and scholar. As a qualified academic, I teach the CIPR professional qualifications with PR Academy and have experience teaching at various Universities. I run the Motor Industry Public Affairs Association (MIPAA) and my own strategic consultancy. I was awarded by PhD researching Career Strategies in Public Relations by Bournemouth University in 2017. I'm a published author, with books, chapters and academic papers to my name.