One of the most famous phrases in public relations is, “There’s no such thing as bad publicity.” While this phrase may not reign true through every PR disaster, companies and organizations have often found ways to use bad publicity to their advantage.
Over the past few years the NCAA March Madness Tournament has aired on four television stations; CBS, TBS, TNT, and truTV. Each year March Madness viewers take to social media to ask their friends and followers “Where and what is truTV?”
Despite the station’s involvement with the tournament for the past three years, viewers can never seem to remember what truTV is or which channel it’s on. That’s why this year truTV is campaigning to keep viewers tuning in past the month of March by declaring these 30 days as truTV Awareness Month.
In between games, the station is utilizing this comedic theme in order to prove to viewers that its shows are worth watching on a regular basis. They are turning their annual mockery into a branding opportunity.
Each ad they release features a star from one of their programs telling the viewers to spread the word about truTV. The “word” being the fact that the channel exists in the first place.
While a majority of the channel’s programs are full of humor—Impractical Jokers, The Carbonaro Effect, Hack My Life, Adam Ruins Everything, The Chris Gethard Show, and others are all reality or talk show comedies—, truTV has managed to combine self-promotion with self-deprecation in this campaign. Not an easy task.
Long story short: Make lemonade out of your lemons. If bad publicity is what you’re receiving, find a way to use it to your advantage. At the end of the day, you’re still being talked about.
This article also appeared in our weekly newsletter, Long Story Short. It was written by Joe McIntyre and our intern Mary Clouse.