Celebrity Breakups Turned PR Lessons

June 21, 2018

I don’t know about you, but I’m still not over the recent breakup of Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan. I’m re-watching Step Up as we speak to remember what true love really looks like. Just kidding, but let’s be honest if any more power couples break up (looking at you Dax Shepard and Kristen Bell), who will we vicariously live out all of our Hollywood romance dreams through?

Besides the silver lining that Channing Tatum is now single, the real reason I’m bringing this up is because there are some key PR lessons to be learned here, specifically the importance of getting ahead of the news cycle and controlling the narrative before the media can spin their own stories.

If you aren’t staying up to date on your pop culture news, here’s a quick recap. Both Jenna and Channing released the same message on their social media accounts announcing their split. And while we were happily surprised they steered clear of the words “irreconcilable differences,” the more impactful part of their joint statement is that they were the first ones to break the news before the tabloids could misconstrue and misreport a presumably extremely difficult time in their lives.

Same goes for the even more recent split of reality star Kendra Wilkinson, who basically documented the entire breakup on her Instagram stories. And while we don’t really need to know the nitty gritty details of the downfall of her marriage, she and the now ex-Tatum’s told the world their news in their own way.

While not all of us in PR represent celebrities or have to guide our clients through personal issues, the rule of getting ahead of the news cycle applies to just about any corporate crisis situation.

Part of a strong PR strategy is having a plan in place to address crises proactively rather than reactively. If you know something is going to happen, break the news yourself. And this doesn’t necessarily always apply to crises, but just a good rule of thumb in PR for many situations. Break the news before someone else does so you can control your own story .

While we all know things don’t always go according to plan, we want to do our due diligence to make sure we can control as much of the narrative as possible. Whether you’re pitching a funding announcement or addressing a controversial statement from an executive, getting out in front of it first, setting up interviews and providing talking points to your client can help ensure a positive outcome. Obviously there are some situations where it’s more appropriate to offer an exclusive to a reporter, answer questions via email or announce via social media. It all depends on the desired result and the situation you are dealing with.

Before I start contemplating a world where Chrissy Teigen and John Legend break up, I’ll leave you with this – there is a lot of power in PR and with great power comes great responsibility. PR can be a great tool to garner positive press attention, tell an awesome product story or to alleviate a crisis situation (the right way). And so much of this comes down to simply getting in front of the news cycle and being the first to tell your story, the way you want to tell it.

-Jamie

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