Not All Publicity is Good Publicity
Positive publicity about a firm or its representatives can be a wonderful and genuinely beneficial thing. Conversely, negative publicity can be quite damaging and limiting to a professional firm in terms for new referrals, growth opportunities, staff attraction and retention as well as so many other ways. The difficulty is, whether the negative publicity is warranted or not, there is often very little the recipient of this attention can do to reduce, negate or limit its impact. Often it’s just about riding it out; I’m sure we can all think of a few recent cases where this is the case.

Likewise, in this world of the internet, Google is now an extremely powerful tool utilised by staff, clients and colleagues alike to perform a little research on people and firms that they are considering connecting with. Now it’s probably fair to say that not everyone within this professional space will be our fans and there will always be a select few that think we could do better, however reputation is key and protecting that can involve ensuring that you don’t mix with the wrong ‘crowd’ so to speak. The difficulty lies in scenarios such as this, in that you don’t get to represent or protect your own interests. People will make decisions about whether to do business with you or not without even giving you the opportunity to put forward your side of the story.

Case in point, is a few recent practice transactions where publicly available information has swayed the vendor in respect of whether the proposed purchaser is a suitable fit to take over and continue servicing their clients.

The concern often is, if the vendor has done some research on the purchaser and found what is perceived to be either slightly or significantly negative press about the purchaser, then so too can clients. This places any retention sum at risk because clients often won’t have an open discussion about the information they have found, they will simply walk.

Clients will potentially see their previous practitioner as a turkey for ‘becoming involved with someone like this’ and see the new service provider as shady or worse. Thus, clients leave following a transaction, the clawback clause is invoked in respect of the retention sum, and the vendor watches part of their sale price walk away. Ultimately this will impact upon any external growth aspirations that the purchaser may have as a vendor decides to proceed with others, often without passing judgement, simply because they can’t risk the potential impact such publicity may have on their clients, staff and the transaction itself.

Perhaps in some cases, no publicity is good publicity.

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