For those of you who don’t know, Roxanne Pallett is a TV soap actress, who recently went into the Celebrity Big Brother House.
She ended up in a huge media storm after accusing another housemate of attacking her, using domestic abuse language and references to describe it.
It’s probably the biggest PR disaster this year so far…
What actually happened, is the other housemate, a guy, started a little play fight with her – a little body punch…but not aggressive, a little tap, which she said had hurt her a lot and had made her feel attacked.
She was in tears to another housemate telling him she’d been attacked and was scared etc – she wasn’t a soap actress for nothing!
She was quickly removed from the house, watched the clip back and realised that she’s made a massive error of judgement.
But…the viewers had seen what had really gone on and knew she was lying about the alleged attack. Twitter exploded, her name was muck on there and she was very quickly into the most humungous exercise in damage limitation I’ve seen for a long time.
I would have hated to have been her PR girl…the battle was never going to be won!
She was wheeled out to TV interviews where, very tearfully, she told us all she’d got it wrong and could see what we all saw once she played the clip back…and that, of course, was not the abuse she had so publicly accused him of.
She said she understood the backlash and was sorry. She also had to answers questions about her accusations – if the cameras hadn’t have been there, it would have been her word against his and his reputation would be in tatters.
In addition to this, a whole load of people from her past – fellow soap actors etc hit Twitter to tell the rest of the world that this kind of behaviour was normal for her. The tweets were a catalogue of horror – she hadn’t been popular, was awful to work with, some said she was a liar and it looked like she hadn’t exactly ingratiated herself to most people who she’d worked with in the past.
The PR disaster doesn’t stop there though. She went on this reality TV show to get back in the limelight and earn a small fortune off the back of it.
Potentially, she could have landed an advertising campaign – companies pay people millions each year to be the face of their brand. She could have been signed up to all sorts of TV shows and spots on gameshows etc.
She would have been able to charge a fortune for social media endorsements (yes, celebs are paid to retweet brands’ posts to their followers because their fans will buy what they think they buy).
Her earning potential if this situation hadn’t have happened was massive. But instead, her reputation is in tatters and her existing work has been pulled – she’s given up her radio show and been dropped by advertisers she was already working with.
For Ryan Thomas though, the guy she accused, he was left in the house thinking his career was in ruin but it’s gone the other way for him – he’ll have millions in his bank account by Xmas because companies are falling over themselves to get him!
It’s funny how the PR world works but once reputation is damaged, it’s very hard to recover from.
All of this is called Crisis Communications in the PR world. Sometimes, you can flatten the story because the press has the facts wrong and you can prove it. Other times, you can just dampen it down but other times you’re firefighting, on a damage limitation exercise because the truth is, there has been an error.
The worst thing you can do is hide away though – crisis communications often involves fronting it up, giving the interviews or statement the media wants and seeing the crisis off.
My job at Kent Police involved this kind of work most days – because the public and media are very keen to attack the police and hold them to account. There, I kept many stories from the front pages, other stories didn’t even make it to their ears and others just got dampened down and made less prominent – but only with expert handling and liaison!
Speak to me if you have a crisis rumbling – it’s always best to plan if you can, but there are some situations that come out of nowhere and that’s where my skills come into play to handle the situation!