Bad PR Recovery: Tips from the Celebrity Set

By: Guest | October 15, 2012 | 

Today’s guest post is by Luis Salazar.

Celebrity bad behavior is so common nowadays that most people barely bat an eye when they hear about it.

Whether cheating on their significant others, brawling in clubs, shoplifting, or crashing into innocent pedestrians with their luxury cars, celebrities certainly are keeping their PR teams busy.

And as Mel Gibson, Charlie Sheen, and Lindsay Lohan can attest to, sometimes the rich and famous have a hard time kicking their bad behavior habits.

However, it can be done.

Many celebrities on the brink of oblivion have gone on to spectacularly rebuild their public personas, thanks in large part to some excellent PR teams.

As the following guidelines prove, sometimes all it takes is a little common sense to recover from a bad public image.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help

Fifteen years ago, Robert Downey Jr. could have easily served as the poster child for bad PR. The actor had so many run-ins with the law for alcohol, drugs, and gun possession that film studios would no longer insure him for their projects. Unemployable, riddled with addiction issues, and abandoned by his long-suffering wife, Downey finally decided to commit to rehabilitation.

Now clean and sober, remarried, and in the midst of a career renaissance, Downey is proof that even those who have hit rock bottom can work their way back to the top.

Surround Yourself With People Who Care

After a disastrous 2007 MTV Video Awards performance, paparazzi umbrella attack, notorious head shaving, and a multitude of other PR blunders, Britney Spears was all but written off by her once adoring public. Yet little more than five years later, she’s now gainfully employed, engaged to be married, and generally doing great. How did this happen, you ask?

Fortunately for Brit, she had family and friends who were willing to intervene for her own well-being. Once she started exhibiting bouts of bad behavior, her father took conservatorship of her affairs.

Since then, and with the help of a savvy PR team, Britney has gotten her personal – and public – life back on track. Whether a brand, business or burnt out superstar, creating a caring community of people who will help you if you need it is key.

Be Excellent

No matter how many PR faux pas a celebrity may have, as many have proven, you can right all wrongs when you have talent and charisma. Robert Downey Jr., Britney Spears, Alex Rodriguez, Alec Baldwin, Kobe Bryant, even former President Bill Clinton… all of these celebrities have endured their fair share of bad PR. However, they all have fought back from professional and personal collapse by reminding the public why we fell in love with them in the first place.

Post PR disasters, they have gone on to receive awards, win championships, and get back into our good graces. So when all is said and done, what’s the best way to combat bad PR? Quite simply, be really, really good at what you do best, and remind people of that fact as often as you can through positive PR.

Luis Salazar works for Day2Day Printing, an online printing company. With a passion for SEO, marketing, and design, his skills allow him to provide both creative and technological solutions to businesses. When not sitting down at his desk you can find him jogging or jamming on his guitar.

  • This post touches on one of my personal peeves that makes me sound like I spend way too much time reading celebrity gossip: Britney Spears as a “success story.” I mean, I don’t know her, but the poor woman must be severely mentally ill for a judge to grant her father a permanent conservatorship over her affairs. If she’s severely mentally ill, it seems unkind to me to continue her career when she has already earned enough money to maintain a middle-class lifestyle and care adequately for her children for the rest of her life. She isn’t allowed unrestricted phone or internet access and has been described as not mentally competent to testify as a witness in a court case involving her. Why not give the poor thing a break from public life and let her enjoy raising her kids? Of course, there’s no way to know if she wants to remain a celebrity or not, since her conservators also won’t let anyone interview her live or interview her without clearing the questions first.

    • @jelenawoehr I wonder if there are commercial decisions which influence a celebrities decision to stay in the public eye?

      • @joshchandler With others, probably, but someone not mentally competent to be called to testify in court can probably not be considered to be making a “decision” to stay in the public eye.

  • Who doesn’t love to see redemption? I think your post is a good one and points to the fact that now matter how terrible the act was, some measure of redemption is possible.
    I wonder, though, how many people don’t forgive. I, for one, will always consider Alec Baldwin to be a scumbag. I can’t get his phone call to his daughter out of my head. Tiger Woods, who broke my heart by cheating on his lovely wife, won’t get my cheers again. Go Zach Johnson!
    Others, though, I’m quite fine with their comebacks. I applaud Robert Downey Jr. and Bill Clinton for making amends, and the same could be said for Alex Rodriguez. I can’t say I cared one way or another about Britney Spears.
    I guess the point is, if at all possible, use some common sense and avoid the bad PR in the first place, but if you are a narcissist, who must cheat and be a douche, then a good PR firm might help you make amends…or at the very least…fake it (Alec Baldwin).

  • MelissaOnline

    @JessicaNorthey Going to try my best-est to make #CMchat tonight! Packing for Chicago. Oy vey!

    • kafesguatemala

      @MelissaOnline Melissa at what time is the #CMchat ?

  • Luis, it sure would be an interesting from a PR perspective to look at lists of (1) celebrities who have hit rock bottom and (2) celebrities who have come back. For PR purposes only. For real life purposes, I wish they’d all just stay in their rooms more often.

  • nimiparker

    Very interesting
    article. I would love to read the book “Start with Why”, by Simon Sinek. I
    think he has taken a great topic to deal with. Teaching leaders to inspire
    others is a good idea to bring up a civilized society. Thanks for sharing.
    Keep posting.