What Does a Celebrity PR Agent Do?
What do Tiger Woods, Mel Gibson and Hugh Grant have in common? They were all highly respected public figures until they fell spectacularly from grace. Tiger’s golfing fans turned against him because of his alleged extramarital affairs. Braveheart actor Mel Gibson went on a drunken, anti-Semitic rant that left him a Hollywood outcast. And Hugh Grant lost his foppish appeal after he was arrested for engaging in oral sex with a prostitute in 1995.
In all three cases, the negative publicity did them a lot of harm. Sponsors pulled out of deals, media interviews got cancelled, and they all but disappeared from the public eye. At least for a while.
Under the microscope
This goes to show that celebrity reputations are fragile. One drunken mistake or moment of madness can do a lot of damage, or worse, end a career. It’s the job of a celebrity PR agent to help prevent celebs ruining their life’s work.
Here are just a few of the things celebrity PR agents do to make sure their clients hit the headlines for all the right reasons:
Monitor the internet for rumours
If you’re in the public eye, the chances are, there’s some nasty stuff on the internet about you. Sadly, it’s the way of the world. But sometimes nasty stuff can damage a reputation. And with social media sites, smartphones and digital cameras in abundance, bad news can travel fast. Something as innocent as a business meeting between two celebrities can be caught on camera, spun and become an affair, even if that couldn’t be further from the truth. If an actor gets photographed whilst tipsy in a bar, suddenly he’s battling problems with alcoholism.
So celebrity PR agents spend a lot of time scouring the internet for negative comments, quashing rumours and making statements.
Building relationships with online powers
To stop rumours becoming full-blown PR crises, celebrity PR agents build good relationships with the online powers that be. For example, a good PR agent will work with Google, so they can get false, defamatory headlines or incriminating photos removed from the search engine.
If a scandal does reach the public domain and is true, the best way to deal with it is to admit it and apologise. This will make managing the fallout much easier. For example, British actor Orlando Bloom upset fans by using a derogatory word during a radio interview last year. He said: “I’m still a pikey from Kent. You don’t want to get on the wrong side of me.” Radio One listeners from Kent were less than thrilled, and the BBC received a lot of complaints.
Luckily, Bloom’s PR team were on the ball. They prepared an apology for Bloom to release as soon as they became aware of the complaints. It said: “I’ve come from Kent and grew up with a lot of freewheeling, cool, interesting characters. I certainly wasn’t taking a slant at that at all. I’m very respectful.”
Although this was a small faux pas in the grand scheme of things, it could have escalated if Bloom’s PR agent hadn’t stepped in with a timely apology. An honest and heartfelt explanation often defuses a celebrity crisis before it becomes career-ending.