Is All Publicity Good Publicity?

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It was revealed earlier this week that “Harry Potter” author JK Rowling created the alias Robert Galbraith, who wrote “The Cuckoo’s Calling” — a story about a war veteran turned private investigator to probe the mysterious death of a model. The mystery novel is receiving rave reviews – in stark contrast to Rowling’s last adult, mixed-reviewed narrative entitled “The Causal Vacancy.”

With the Rowling reveal on July 14, “The Cuckoo’s Calling” went from thousands of copies sold nationwide to a rapid climb on Amazon's best-selling list and was in high demand at major bookstores. A publicity stunt? Perhaps.

This situation begs the question: Is all press good press? And even if the results are successful by our industry’s standards, can it still cause reputational harm if a PR campaign seems disingenuous or a totally manufactured act?  

The whirlwind of press surrounding Rowling and her pseudonym-penned novel has resulted in an increase in her visibility and profitability — a successful PR campaign according to PR industry measurements and evaluation (stocks, sales, impressions).

One can argue that Rowling simply got one over to garner more interest in buying the book rather than having a genuine concern about keeping her identity a secret in order to write liberally and produce new work without judgment based on her prior work of adult fiction. This is a concern many journalists, poets, writers, authors, and others share when trying to craft quality creative content and sharpen their writing ability.

The reveal of Rowling as Galbraith was a PR success because the books are now flying off the shelves. But, good writing is good writing, let the book sell itself and publicity will happen organically.