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Bad News Isn’t Always Bad for Brands
By: Kaitlin T. Gallucci
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As we’ve talked about before, consumers prefer to engage with human-like brands — that is, brands that communicate with their consumers in a personal way. A brand’s ability to engage on a human level could make the difference between disaster and opportunity when difficult situations arise. As Sean Hazell wrote, “sincerity and accountability are crucial when facing tough times.”

Have bad news? Don’t hide it, especially if it could affect your consumers (such as technical issues, selling out of a product, store closings, etc.). Telling consumers you have bad news to share will pique curiosity, imply urgency, and encourage engagement. Ultimately sharing this kind of information will help build trust and goodwill around the brand. According to Danny Iny, co-founder of Firepole Marketing, using the words “bad news” in an email subject line often results in particularly high response rates.

While this is all good to know should a legitimate opportunity arise, it is imperative to note that “bad news” should not be used as a tactic just to increase response rates or engagement. If a brand says it has bad news to share but the news isn’t actually bad at all, it will have the opposite effect — consumers will feel manipulated and lose trust in the brand. Sure, a “bad news” email subject line will probably have a high open rate, but if used improperly, it will probably have a high rate of opt-outs as well.

Consumers are smarter and more critical than ever. Don’t play with their emotions, even for the sake of engagement. The key to engagement is simply being real.

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About the Author
Kaitlin T. Gallucci is a New York based direct and digital marketing strategist. She tweets here.
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