Jussie Smollett incident shows why crisis comms plans are a necessity

by | Feb 25, 2019 | Analysis, Public Relations

Publicists are known for the saying, “All publicity is good publicity.” Well…I disagree.

I would, instead, say, “All publicity has the potential to begood publicity.” That’s why PR professionals prepare crisis communication plans.

Take Jussie Smollett for example. He’s all over the news right now. Jussie just entered an exclusive category of celebrity which includes names like Ryan Lochte and Lance Armstrong.

Sure, we’re talking about him. But it’s for all the wrong reasons

That being said, Jussie does have an opportunity to control the message. He’s all over the media and, if handled correctly, he could absolutely take advantage of that. Now is the time for his crisis communication plan to kick into gear. With all eyes on Jussie, this is his make or break moment.

Here’s a few ways this could go down:

Option 1: Crumble under the pressure

Hide away from the public and avoid confrontation.  Eventually, everyone will forget anyway, right?

Option 2: Keep fighting

Deny, deny, deny.  Blame everyone else and force your fans to choose a side.

And finally, if Jussie were my client…

Option 3: Apologize

Take ownership of your actions and communicate a plan to make amends.  Find a related cause that you are passionate about and redirect attention.

Jussie Smollett incident shows why crisis comms plans are a necessity

Ultimately, everyone makes mistakes. And if you are a celebrity like Jussie, your mistakes will be under the spotlight—magnified and dissected. You must have a crisis communication plan in place.

See more media coverage of Ray Drasnin’s comments about the Jussie crisis in Variety, and CBS Los Angeles.

A version of this post originally appeared on the Purple Penguin PR blog; reprinted with permission.

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Ray Drasnin
Ray Drasnin is an “Emperor Penguin” and Publicist at Purple Penguin PRin the San Diego area.