Most companies perceive getting negative attention or negative reviews as a purely bad thing. However, any type of attention is good for SEO. It will build up links, it puts eyes on the company. And in the case that the bad review or bad attention is a minor part of what is overall a good reputation for the company, getting eyes on the company (even in this way) can be a very good thing.
Also, a balance of positive and negative attention tends to make a company look more legitimate, so this can also make this negative aspect bring positive points.
For SEO, any links that point back to the site (even if for negative reasons) will increase PageRank and sometimes may even affect keyword ranking in a good way. I wouldn’t recommend searching for negative attention, but getting some is not always a bad thing. SEO Consult in the UK has more details on why this is.