How PR is helping celebs navigate the complex landscape of public perception
For long, public relations has been an integral part of the entertainment industry. Each new film release has been managed by a publicist team and there has usually been a PRO to create buzz about the new release in the media.
However, the scenario has become a more complex one today. It is no longer about creating a buzz, but creating the “right” buzz and avoiding any controversy (except a ‘manufactured’ one) at all costs. This is easier said than done in this era of social media.
Fans have come closer to their favourite celebrities thanks to their social media feeds. Whatever the celebs say, do and post are always under close scrutiny and one never knows which tweet, Reel or comment or even re-sharing something might earn them the public’s ire.
This is keeping the professionals and agencies in the entertainment business on their toes to remain always vigilant. Adgully spoke to a cross-section of PR industry experts to find out how PR professionals and agencies are helping celebrities navigate the tough world of social media, trolling, being under increased public scrutiny as well as aggressive and highly opinionated netizens.
Nitasha Arora, Senior Public Relationship Manager, Communique, explained, “When it comes to social media, it’s a personal aspect of a celebrity’s life. However, as their PR representatives, we have to advise them on what not to post. With the onset of a whole new phenomenon – social media trolling – a celebrity has to be mindful of not hurting anyone’s sentiments. The ideal way to keep the engagement high is to post often, show their audiences snippets of their daily lives, and the most important part is that the celebrity should be most comfortable with what is going out, as eventually it is their voice to the world.”
At the same time, she added, “Celebrities and controversies go hand-in-hand, and social media may not be the sole platform to be blamed. What leads to these controversies, and how do you as a PR professional make the celebrities well prepared for such situations is important.”
Speaking about how her entertainment PR agency handles the celebs’ presence on social media, Nidhi Gupta, Founder, Planet Media PR, said, “We excel in managing celebrities’ social media engagement while safeguarding their reputation. We curate strategic content aligned with their brand image and target audience. Thoughtful brand collaborations amplify their presence and offer creative opportunities. Real-time engagement fosters a sense of community and loyalty. Our proactive crisis management approach swiftly addresses concerns. Personalised social media strategies optimise platforms, content, and engagement tactics. With these strategies, we ensure high engagement while responsibly navigating the digital landscape and protecting our clients’ reputations.”
The entertainment industry is no stranger to the intertwined nature of celebrities and controversies. It is a realm where social media plays a significant role, and public trolling has become increasingly common. “People are more vocal than ever about their opinions, often treating artists as objects of critique. This dynamic leads to the accumulation of controversies that require careful damage control. There are two perspectives to consider. On the one hand, some celebrities actively seek the limelight and may even embrace controversies as part of their public image. On the other hand, there are those who prefer to distance themselves from such controversies,” noted Gupta.
She further said, “As a management team, we advise our artists to rise above the noise and refrain from engaging in unnecessary debates. If situations escalate, we suggest issuing a well-crafted statement that reflects their genuine sentiments. We acknowledge that artists, like everyone else, are human and prone to mistakes. That’s why we have a dedicated team to handle these matters and navigate the complex landscape of public perception.”
Communique’s Arora here mentioned about the advent of ‘Netizens’, which is basically anyone with access to social media and who has an opinion on everything. Celebrities are now well aware of what needs to be taken seriously and what can be disregarded. With controversies, social media is a great platform for the celebrity to clear the air and give their version. It is a tool that has to be used in a correct manner and it can be an asset too.
“As PR reps, we have to be prepared before the celebrity with our plan of action in place in such situations. Explaining the celebrity comes with the territory and our relation with them, but the strategy needs to be actioned ASAP in order to do damage control effectively. We have to be alert and on guard and make fast decisions,” she added.
While digital transformation, utilising platforms, influencers, and data insights are is essential, upholding authenticity and transparency are crucial as well. The PR experts agree that maintaining genuine connections, having transparent disclosures, and addressing controversies promptly are important.
According to Gupta, “Diversity, inclusion, and representation are prioritised, advocating for inclusive storytelling and supporting under-represented voices. Ethical influencer partnerships are fostered through rigorous vetting and alignment with brand values. Privacy and data protection are paramount, complying with regulations and implementing secure practices. By embracing these factors, we navigate the evolving landscape, deliver exceptional results, and uphold responsible and ethical PR practices.”
Arora pointed out, “In the past few years, digital PR is a medium that has taken the industry by storm. In the aftermath of COVID-19, several print newspapers and magazines closed down, with a rise in new age media. With digital media and the paparazzi culture taking over social media, comes an onset of negative comments and it is not easy for celebrities to see/ hear opinions on not just themselves, but even their family members. This is definitely a concern that needs to be looked at, especially when children are being targeted and threatened. As an agency, we believe in prioritising what is most important and needs to be addressed.”