Handling Bad Celebrity PR

celebrity pr issuesCelebrities are always in the news, both because they are famous, and because when they aren’t getting attention, they become less famous. It is an ouroboros, feeding into itself, creating a 24/7 buzz about everything that is that individual, from what they wear to where they eat to their opinions on the issues of today. They say that in the world of fame, there is no such thing as bad publicity, since what they are selling is anything about that person that attracts the eyeballs of the populous. However, it is pretty clear that this outmoded concept has gone by the wayside, and there is most definitely such a thing as “bad publicity.”So what does one do when faced with bad PR attached to a celebrity? What is actually even the bad public relations stigma, and is it the same as for a business or corporation? According to Ronn Torossian, the CEO of 5W Public Relations, a maverick PR consulting firm based in NYC, the answer can be more complex than you might believe. Since certain celebrities feed off of the “bad-boy” or “bad-girl” image, then actions like wrecking a hotel room or cursing someone out in public actually feed into somewhat positive PR for them. It continues their brand, like a rockstar or tough-guy type actor.

Crossing The Public Line

However, there are those things which are simply over the line. The public may like the image of a rebel or someone who breaks the rules, but they tend to be less forgiving if people are actually hurt, or their image of a straightlaced person is shattered. For example, a DUI is always a bad press moment, since drunk driving is a more taboo act in the eyes of the public. If the person involved is seen as having a more sweet and innocent public persona, such as what happened to Lindsay Lohan or Amanda Bynes, then the fallout tends to be much worse.

celebrity pr issuesSo how are things like this generally dealt with? There have been many different approaches over the history of celebrity public relations disaster aversion, and while each situation is a little different and unique, the basics still remain the same. The general public likes someone who owns up to their actions, and apologizes. Once that is done, if there can be an explanation that shifts the blame elsewhere, then that usually happens. Apologies are generally meant to be heartfelt, and teamed with some kind of compensatory action, such as volunteerism, or large donations to a charity related to the faux pas.

This is sometimes coupled with a public announcement that the celebrity in question is seeking some kind of counseling for a condition related to the incident, like sex addiction for Tiger Woods after he cheated multiple times on his wife, or Mel Gibson blaming alcoholism for his anti-Semitic rants, then going to rehab. Generally, the first rule is apology, the second is finding a way to shift blame so that the public feels sorry for the celebrity, and finally, show that the celebrity is back on their feet and better than ever, because everyone loves a famous person who capitalizes on a second chance.

Ronn Torossian

Ronn Torossian is the founder and CEO of 5WPR and one of the most well-respected Public Relations professionals in the United States. Ronn is the author of "For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results with Game-Changing Public Relations."

View more posts from this author