I posted a LinkedIn poll asking “Can Negative Brand Mentions Hurt Your Google Rankings?”. The poll received 241 responses.
80% of SEOs said negative brand mentions can affect your website’s ranking and 20% said it will not impact ranking.
Here is the Poll Result
There is a possibility that it would if there were massive PR drops, thousands of complaints, serious fraud, and the media going ape over it. It won’t affect you the way you think. It won’t directly affect your rankings, but other indirect factors will ultimately cause them to drop.
According to Google’s most recent Quality Raters Guidelines, reputation is a major factor, so they are likely trying to develop a reliable way to measure it.