In the Aftermath of Controversy, Change the Narrative
by Danielle Giaccio
Write Comment April 10th, 2015 Cultural Trends · News Response · Social Media · Tips
When you are a person in the spotlight, whether it is a celebrity, a major CEO, politician, etc., there is always a chance that what you say can be perceived many different ways from many different people. If you say something that is considered to be questionable, you are going to be open to scrutiny in the public and media as well. Even if the comment was made in jest or as a joke, they can have an effect on your public image.
Being in the public eye, this kind of scrutiny is expected. As a PR professional representing those in the limelight, it is important to have a strategy as how to best acknowledge the comments and how to best change the narrative. In some cases, there is no need to address a careless statement made, but in most cases, there is a need to do so – and how you go about it is key to how the person will be perceived in the media and public eye.
Veteran E! News journalist Giuliana Rancic recently came under fire for her controversial remarks about Disney star Zendaya’s hair during a taping of E!’s “Fashion Police.” In the aftermath of those remarks, Giuliana was met with a lot of harsh criticism, and what followed was a lesson in PR that is often the case in these high-profile celebrity cases. Giuliana stayed silent on the matter. She did make a public apology to the Disney star but did not elaborate on it further. Despite the unraveling of “Fashion Police” since the incident, the public did not hear much from her about the matter.
That all changed when her new book Going Off Script was coming out. Giuliana has been making the media rounds to promote her new book and to give her side of the story. She now has her moment to defend herself and change the narrative or ‘spin’ the story to her advantage. And, she is doing just that.
She is expressing regret and also making people think twice about rushing to judgment by changing the narrative of the original story told. She made several references to the fact that she was not being racist, rather referencing a “bohemian chic” look. She also stated that the editing of the show made it look worse then what it actually was. It’s all about context and, in this case, she is showing that the remarks were made in context but shown a different way.
She is being very smart about this for a number of reasons. Number one, she is showing the public that she is remorseful, which is what people want to see. But, in the same sense, she is showing people that they may have rushed to judgment and is showing a different side of the story. Essentially, she is spinning the story to her advantage. Time will tell whether or not her career will survive this, but if it does, it will be a good lesson in PR. When controversy hits, own up to it, and when the time is right, clarify your point of view to change the narrative of the story to your advantage.