For the Love of Bad News

John Lewis have just announced Cloud Light their trading results for 2015 and they are in line with expectations; Waitrose grew its’ market share and John Lewis online sales were up 17%. Sounds like a good year unless the headlines are to be believed.

“JL Reports fall in Profits” “Profits fall and staff bonus cut” “Staff bonuses cut again”

Trading in line with expectations is good for any business and suggests that long term strategy is working. However, when positive news is spun around and presented in a negative light the jovial board room mood is shattered by hammering on the door and a sudden demand for answer and change.

What Impact does this have?

The proliferation of social and news media can rapidly spin a story out of control and cause real damage to business and individuals. Questions are raised and the seeds of doubt sown which begin to undermine even the best performers who suddenly find themselves under the hatchet.

Growing a long term sustainable business requires investment and in a market as saturated as the UK with inflation at 0.2% how can a company be expected to increase turnover and profit at an exponentially higher rate. Much like a bullish fund manager reaps the reward of short term trends media companies rely on daily ‘disaster’ headlines to draw in readers who apparently thrive on negative news.

Why Report Good News as Bad news?

Anyone on Facebook (or LinkedIn) will have been inundated with ‘click-bait’ stories and pictures “I can’t believe they did that… number 7 has to be seen to be believed… “. Perhaps in a world of sensory overload where some demographics spend 9 hours a day on social media it is no wonder that we have run out of interesting content and are instead transfixed on what can only be described as time killing trash.

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Is this why mainstream media feels the need to sensationalise the business headlines with bad news to provoke reaction rather than good news to distribute praise? When people are too busy to look up from their phones getting their attention to earn your ‘pay per click’ revenue requires ever more elaborate stunts. Check out the 10 most read stories on @BBC news right now and they all have a negative headline.

What we need is an Anchorman style good news approach; introduce #happynews to spread feel good stories promoting success and accomplishment rather than seeking out other’s failings to reassure ourselves.

I’ll start, check out this story about a penguin that swims 5,000km every year to see the guy who saved it. This penguin is not going to solve the migrant crisis or reduce unemployment but I feel better about my morning! http://www.theguardian.com/world/video/2016/mar/10/penguin-swims-5000-miles-each-year-to-man-who-saved-its-life-video