When I was learning about PR and communications in school, we were taught as PR practitioners that our job was to help our client. Through the good and the bad, we are paid to advise, counsel and ultimately help our clients achieve their goals.
Apparently the celebrity publicists missed that class. Last Friday, Chris Brown’s publicist announced she quit after Brown’s outburst on Good Morning America earlier in the week. This follows, Charlie Sheen’s longtime publicist who dropped him earlier in the month after his crazy rants across media channels. Now I’ll admit, Brown & Sheen have a lot of problems and can’t be easy clients to work for. That being said, what do you do when your client continues to ignore your counsel? Drop them like a fly or stick it out with aggressive media training and creative interview techniques? Even a journalism 101 student would’ve asked Chris Brown about the Rihanna situation and he should’ve been prepared with a statement to answer that question. Could other publicists help these two? Who knows. Whoever is working with Sheen right now is doing a pretty good job considering he has a sold out 20-city tour and no one knows what the tour is about.
When the going gets tough, the tough aren’t suppose to quit. I’ve dealt with clients that have had less than desirable media coverage and that’s part of the job. If your client throws a temper tantrum on national TV, deal with it. Figure out how to media train that person so that interviewers’ questions don’t upset him. We are constantly giving clients advice about how to speak with the media and, especially when it’s a crisis situation, the tone, body language and demeanor can say more than words.
My advice to these celebrity publicists is to stop coddling. We know these people are famous, but they need some tough love. They need a no-nonsense approach to PR, especially for those that have had an array of PR nightmares beforehand and are on their comeback tour. If you want to sell me a record, new show or a tour about your crazy rants, prove to me that you’re capable of a simple sit down interview. And that you’ve had the smarts to hire a publicist that will actually help you do that.