Amazon's decision to run a highly public bidding process for its second headquarters, called HQ2, is turning into a publicity nightmare.
Just two weeks after pulling out of New York City (one of the two winners for HQ2) following fierce local opposition, Amazon is now facing similar protests from several politicians and activists in the Northern Virginia region (the other winner). The criticism is largely centered around the incentives cities were giving Amazon, which is one of the most valuable companies in the world, and its potential impact for raising the cost of living in those areas.
Amazon could have avoided all the negative publicity if it had just run the bidding process quietly, instead of spinning up a year-long media cycle, according to public relations experts.
"To go out and create a 'beauty contest,' and turn it into a media circus — it was a dumb idea," said Paul Argenti, a communications professor at Dartmouth College.