The unexpected benefits of getting in a public fight

In the world of strategic communication and public relations, we often treat conflict like a radioactive potato; no one wants to touch it or even get near it. Most brands and organizations tiptoe around it, avoiding controversy and confrontation at all costs. In our humble opinion, conflict gets a bad rap. To be clear, we’re not advocating for conflict for conflict’s sake−quite the contrary. But, if you find yourself in the middle of controversy, there are some benefits to be realized. 

The engagement kick-starter

Picture this: Conflict walks into the room, and everyone suddenly looks up from their phones. When your brand or organization takes a stance on a divisive issue or gets tangled up in a public tiff, you're like a celebrity on the red carpet. People can't help but take notice. Use this opportunity to tell your story, share your values, and lean into those who agree with you. 

Can we talk? 

Like the old saying goes, when life hands you lemons, make lemonade. When life hands you conflict, start talking. Meaningful dialogues with your critics or rivals can be an opportunity to clear the air. If you’re fortunate, the conversation can even lead to mutual understanding and opportunities to work together. By diving headfirst into conflict and talking things out, you show others you're up for a challenge. This often helps build goodwill, too.  

Values take center stage 

Conflict is like the stage director of a Broadway show, shining a spotlight on your values and principles. When things get dicey, you're faced with a choice: do you stick to your guns or fold like a tent? By staying true to your values during the drama, you're not only solidifying your brand identity, but also attracting fans who share your views. Authenticity during conflict is like a magnet for kindred spirits.

The enemy of my enemy is my friend   

Conflict can be a matchmaker for powerful alliances. When brands or organizations confront a common “enemy” (we use that word sparingly – “opponent” is often better) it's like the universe saying, "Hey, you two should meet!" These partnerships can create a combination like peanut butter and jelly—two individual things that just go better together. By staring down conflict together, you can build a coalition of supporters that is likely much more diverse. 

Catalyst for action

If history has taught us anything, it's that some of the most epic changes result from conflict. When brands or organizations take a bold stand and dive into controversy, they serve as the proverbial tip of the spear. Whether you're advocating for public policy, regulatory change, or some other cause, conflict can be the kick in the pants to get things moving. By embracing conflict and using it as a launchpad, you can make real change. 

Thicken your skin

Think of conflict as training for a marathon. Going head-to-head with adversity makes you stronger, more agile and ready to respond to challenging circumstances. When you confront conflict head-on and deal with it, you usually come out stronger on the other side. Yes, battle-scarred, but ready for whatever may be thrown at you next. 

When brands and organizations embrace conflict, they can use it to grab attention, spark conversations, showcase their values, forge partnerships, kickstart change, and prepare for the future. So, the next time conflict comes knocking at your door, don't shy away—invite it in, offer it a cup of tea, and see where the conversation takes you. 

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