How to Handle a Celebrity’s PR Nightmare


In Hollywood, crisis management is a full time job for PR professionals. Celebrities aren’t immune to public opinion, and a single wrong move could cost them endorsement deals, public trust, and major movie and television roles. It’s the job of a PR company to help celebrities address the scandal, as well as act fast to contain it.

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Here are some examples of fairly-common celebrity PR nightmares, and the steps you can take to save your client’s reputation:

Your Client Has a Substance Abuse Problem

It’s no secret that addiction is prevalent in Hollywood. It’s even been suggested that fame causes addiction, or that people desiring fame have unhealthy depressive natures. Because a lot of celebrities have substance abuse issues, the public is often willing to forgive these issues when the celebrity gets treatment.

It’s important to cultivate a relationship based on honesty and mutual respect. So, if you suspect your client is abusing drugs and/or alcohol, have a frank discussion about it. If you know the warning signs of substance abuse, a simple discussion could have monumental power. It could be the reason a scandal never occurs, and the public never learns about your client’s addictions.

Physical and behavioral signs of substance abuse:

  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Frequent nosebleeds
  • Slurred speech
  • Loss of interest in work and activities

Celebrities suspected of drug or alcohol abuse are expected to own their addictions, attend rehab, and reenter society as a sober person. This is what the public wants, and therefore it’s necessary for PR companies to encourage addicted stars to get the treatment they need.

Your Client Can’t Control Themselves on Social Media

The best clients are the ones that let professionals handle their online presence, but not everyone is going to relinquish their social media accounts to an assistant. If your client is managing their own social media accounts, your business should be to set up real-time monitoring to ensure you’re being updated on anything and everything that’s being printed about your client online.

Some celebrities have gotten out of control on social media sites. Unfortunately, this unfiltered behavior can result in public outrage. Such was the case when Chris Brown shared homophobic Tweets. In situations such as these, it’s best the celebrity own up to their mistake, apologize, and hope the public forgives.

Your Client is Cheating on His/Her Spouse

If you’re lucky, you can get ahead of an affair. If you know about it, encourage your celebrity client to make a decision in regards to his/her spouse – stay or go. It’s a mistake to help a client hide an affair, especially if the ultimate goal is to continue cheating undetected. Eventually, the cheater will be caught, and your client will be very angry – At You! – for not protecting them.

If an affair draws media attention, ask your client to make a plan, apologize, and do the right thing – whatever that may be. David Duchovny was cheating on his wife, Tea Leoni, and the scandal made national headlines. He attended sex addiction treatment, and since then, has kept himself out of the headlines. His marriage eventually dissolved, but the media barely covered their divorce. Why? Because Duchovny acted quickly, dealt with his issues, apologized, and moved on.

The Bottom Line

Always encourage your clients to be real people – honest, apologetic, and willing to get help. In the end, there will be some fallout in relation to a scandal, but facing it head-on is likely to soften the blow.


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