Ask a hitman

When would negative public relations be applicable?

In fact it is every time when one suffers due to other's actions or lack of actions. What's more, the second party had a clear contractual (sometimes moral) duty to do or not do something and is not willing to repair the damages associated with those and/or change his behavior. Negative public relations are both punishment and a lesson.

Who may deserve it?

- unethical corporations (including the competitors)
- defaulting business partners (for example the debtors)
- unprofessional contractors (including the individual professionals)
- dishonest public figures (like politicans, businesspeople and celebrities)
- organizations engaging in morally wrong actions

Is negative public relations campaign a substitute of legal actions?

No. Legal actions are always recommended. However, especially in case of big companies and famous individuals, negative public relations campaign may be a better tool to make a point and act on behalf of the general public.

No. Negative public relation is an area of research. Apart from actions, the negative public relations directed research can contribute to overall company's business (not only marketing) strategy. Sometimes it can spot flawed processes the company's management doesn't have a clue about. This same goes with martial arts - you can use your skills to do harm or to protect. Sometimes the negative public relations knowledge is useful while helping to the one hit by it.

What is the difference between organized negative public relations and doing it on one's own?

Best analogy: compare a well-trained and well-equipped special forces team having its own clearly defined chain of command and intelligence with a few amateur partisans. Research combined with organized actions and some experience makes the whole difference - both in military and in public relations.

How old the concept of negative public relations?

As old as the mankind. Good examples are the old punishments. Cutting one's hand or tarring and feathering was more than just tortures. The thief or other offender was to be labeled. His body had to scream "I AM THE BAD ONE!". Today our bodies stay fine, bud the bad opinion about us may do the similar trick as tar and feathers.

Are negative public relations related activities only about worsening one's reputation?

No. In fact, most of negative public relations is about researching the weaknesses. Spectacular actions, scandals and similar controversies are not so common since the 'bad' organization or person may change its behaviors even when only understanding that negative public relations acions may be exercised. Running a full-blown negative public relations campaign is like detonating a nuclear bomb: expensive and causing substantial losses.

Do negative public relations activities take place in the Internet only?

Certainly not! However, it is the Internet and so-called social media that brought both positive and negative public relations onto brand new level.

Is negative public relations effective?

The problem with negative public relations compared to regular PR/advertising is that negative public relations may seem to be invisible. And this is a proof of its efficiency. You are aware about thousands of advertising campaigns running just right now. But so many boycotts out there. Why? Because even a threat of boycott or similar actions seems to improve the managerial minds.

What are social benefits of negative public relations for general public at large?

To list just a few:

- social media become really social instead of being just corporate tubes
- rational companies and professionals take business and social feedbacks more seriously
- highly unethical companies and individuals bear greater risk of failures and thus, the general public is better protected
- the overall values of reputation and ethics increase
- overall information flow is improved since negative information can be found more easily

Is negative public relations all about anonymizing one and making his charges to seem massive?

No! At least not professionally run negative public relations. Above all, well run negative public relations activities are not about pretending. Exposing bad deeds of a company or individual may not need that many actions. Provided that the area had been properly researched and actions are carefully planned.

Are negative public relations related activities illegal?

No. They don't have to be, at least. Most of negative public relations consist of actions that are fine from legal point of view. There is a range of actions that can indeed result in (usually only) civil prosecutions, but such are not necessary. Provided that your claims are legitimate, you actions can be moral, effective and compliant with the law.

However, you should expect the entity or individual subject to it to be threatening you (and your helpers) with many legal, quasi-legal and (potentially) illegal consequences. Usually such threats are vague and meaningless. What's more, they show that you are winning.