Can bad press be good press?
I think so. One of the main purposes in using public relations is to generate awareness. And, in this day and age, people are even more in tune with creating their own opinions than ever. Trusting the press isn't the first thing they do when they read a story. In fact, if something negative is written, it may have the opposite effect - people take it as positive because they mistrust the press!
So, if you have something negative written about you:
1. DON'T stress and freak out.
2. DON'T contact the writer/paper and yell at them!
3. DO contact the writer and thank them for writing and offer a time to meet and give them more information.
4. DO share the story with friends, supporters, etc. and ask for their feedback. Perhaps encourage them to write a letter to the editor.
5. DO include that writer/paper in further PR correspondence.
6. DO use it as a learning experience about what the public wants to hear and how information is interpretted - THAT is the power of PR!