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When crisis PR goes wrong: Alec Baldwin’s misguided response

by | Dec 17, 2021 | Public Relations

Recently, Alec Baldwin sat down for an interview with George Stephanopoulos regarding the fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of his film “Rust”. According to Baldwin, he would have never pointed a firearm at another person and pulled the trigger, a statement that hurt his reputation a lot more than it managed to help him, and that likely ended up permanently damaging his public image. Instead of using the exclusive interview to set the record straight regarding the tragic shooting on the film set, it resulted in an illustration of how crisis PR can go wrong.

Baldwin’s statements resulted in a lot of consequences, making shocking headlines in multiple news outlets. Instead of trying to calm down the story from when it first occurred, the actor did the opposite, fanning the flames and making the story itself a lot worse. During the interview, he managed to blame the gun for the shooting, denied that he ever pulled the trigger, and simply refused to take any responsibility for his involvement in the incident.

He said that someone had put a live bullet in one of the prop guns; a bullet which was never even supposed to be on the property of the film set. He also stated that he wasn’t responsible for what happened to Hutchins, the cinematographer, because someone else that he can’t name is actually responsible.

Unfortunately, all of those statements made it practically impossible for the public to forgive him in any way, or to move past the incident. Instead, the interview resulted in even more people paying attention to the proceedings of all related lawsuits. While the entire situation and the interview that followed haven’t put the actor in a positive light, it’s an example that can teach others a lot about crisis communications.

Media coverage

While the original situation drew the attention of people all over the world, instead of them focusing on the remorse and grief that he was trying to convey in his original statements, people found some of his old statements about guns and focused on them. Then, instead of letting the story run its course, Baldwin once again created a news cycle by stating that the gun discharged the bullet without him ever pulling the trigger in the interview, which stirred up a lot of anger with the public.

Focus

The failure on Baldwin’s part to take any sort of responsibility for the incident ended in a lot of media coverage that took the focus away from Hutchins, the cinematographer that passed away due to the incident, and instead turned it on the actor, his actions, and his statements. It’s likely that people that only heard about the latest developments in the story are never going to look into Baldwin’s initial statements of shock, grief, and regret. They’re only going to be focused on the lack of personal accountability from the actor in his latest statements during the interview.

Image source: Indian Express

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Ronn Torossian
Ronn Torossian is the Founder and Chairman of 5W Public Relations: 5WPR is one of the 20 largest PR Firms in the United States.

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