Musicians, movie stars and public figures have always faced criticism for their personal opinions, regardless of how much of themselves they wish to share with the world at large. The major challenge celebs face in the media and social media space has to do with trying to establish a brand for themselves that resonates with the public while navigating the social and political climate.
When celebrities get positive publicity, the media places them in a good light to the public. Many famous people are lauded for their charity work, or millions of people tune in to view their televised nuptials. Positive promotion of a celebrity helps to sell associated products like movies, books or music. However, a good public image is difficult to establish, and there are often teams of people behind the scenes helping to build a likable brand.
While many people operating in the public eye are able to use the media to their advantage, others are harshly scrutinized, and many struggle to overcome negative publicity. In many cases, negative publicity centers around celebrities making mistakes, displaying inappropriate behavior or committing illegal acts. Depending on the age and popularity of the famous person and how they respond to the negative press, their image may or may not recover.
Listen to prominent entertainment lawyer, John Branca, discuss media and stardom during his interview at Harvard.
The Impact of Social Media on Celebrities
Shaping one’s public image was hard enough when the media controlled the narrative, but now celebrities with control over their own social media accounts face an entirely new set of challenges. What seems like a great opportunity to engage directly with fans often leads to conflict and controversy. In efforts to attain relatability with their followers, stars quickly learn that pleasing everyone is impossible, and many even find themselves victims of cancel-culture, a phenomenon where a celebrity or influencer loses a fanbase, an endorsement deal or a business due to what’s considered bad behavior in public or on social media.
An impactful statement can take on new meaning depending on the day’s world events, and any ill-received communication can tank a star’s brand almost immediately. Because the internet is forever, even past remarks can come back to ruin an individual when unaligned with present-day social values. For this reason and others, celebrities must lean heavily on entertainment management and legal teams to help them navigate the volatile and complicated path to successful modern media relations.