Public relations and marketing pundits have been arguing this point forever. PR professionals almost always come on the "not all publicity is good" side, while pure marketing and promotions teams tend to think the opposite in that "all attention is good attention." The truth probably lies somewhere in the middle and on a case-by-case basis. There is a clear difference between the definitions of attention and publicity. Attention is an attempt to make people pay you notice to reach a goal, regardless of your message. Publicity is the coverage you obtain once the attention has taken place, and how your target market reacts to it.
You cannot have bad attention, but you can have bad publicity. They are two different things.
Case in point, it would be nearly impossible to argue that the publicity Tiger Woods has earned from his sexual escapades and infidelity has resulted in anything good for him, his sponsors, or for golf in general. Why is this the case? Because he was already at the top of his game with a well-established brand.
What if Tiger was a mid-tier, not-so-well-known golfer, who was only moderately famous? Could all the bad publicity actually help his brand awareness and celebrity grow? When you're rich and famous you get publicity, but when you're not, you're getting attention, and if hardly anyone knows who you are, attention can usually help you more than it can hurt you. Usually.
We've seen people like Paris Hilton and Pamela Anderson transition ...