At the other extreme, about two in five invincible executives will generally ignore bad press. Ron Gafford of Austin Industries echoed the sentiments of many corporate leaders on the subject of untrue publicity when he said to me, "We elect the 'do nothing' strategy. Any request for retraction or clarification will probably only exacerbate the problem. We just let it die a natural death."
Sheryl Crow has a similar perspective. She believes that as soon as you get to the top of an industry or profession, there is likely to be a natural backlash against you. There will be jealous or resentful people, and there is not a lot you can do about it. Ms. Crow has concluded that negative publicity is part of the way the world of success works, and so what is the use in fighting it? She experienced such a backlash after the Grammy-winning success of her first record, Tuesday Night Music Club. While the single said "All I wanna do is have some fun," she found herself in a situation that was anything but that. The musicians who helped her with the record made accusations that she was not giving them enough credit, and a jealous disagreement arose. "So what happened was I became well known because it was my record, and a lot of other people felt that they should have become famous. And no matter how much press I did about the other people involved, the press was really only interested in me, the artist. So it was a really hard lesson because I lost the support of my friends." Crow chose not to engage in a public fight in the media with her former friends. "I just retreated," she told me. Ultimately, the incident had no negative effect on her career.
One reason to ignore bad publicity is that people only pay enough attention to it to believe that it is true. They rarely follow the details of the public debate. For example, a prominent broadcaster recently had to deal with a scandalous allegation about his personal life. A media outlet reported an untrue story that he was in a rehabilitation clinic for sexual addiction when he was actually risking his life in Israel covering the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians. He too chose to ignore the bad publicity. He realized that by making an issue of it, he would call even further attention to the matter and probably increase the perception that the ridiculous story was true.