The name of this post must be confusing to you. “Social Media is a publicist’s best friend!” you say. “Social Media gives your client a real relationship with fans!” you yell at me with anger in your voice, fist raised, spit flying furiously out of your mouth. I know, I know, social media has it’s strong suites but I’m starting to notice a really disturbing trend. I’ve noticed that social media’s ability to give fans a voice is just adding fuel to a PR disasters fire.
“WHAT?!” you exclaim in frustrated tone. Well, let me explain. When celebrity disaster strikes, twitter and youtube get over run with angry fans spewing venom at their so called “favorite celebrities”. This ability adds a whole new step to conflict management. Damage control isn’t enough. How can you possible put angery (and quite vulgar fans) at bay?
Still not getting it? I’ll use my least favorite example first.
The Kristen Stewart’s Cheating Scandal
I hate Twilight. The movies are awful, the book is poorly written, and the fans are incredibly obnoxious. That being said, I can’t help but take a look at this Kristen cheating on Rob debacle. Fans waited years for these two boring, pale, mopey kids to finally be an officially couple so, naturally when news broke that she cheated on Rob with the directer of Snow White and the Huntsman, the story was huge. This story would needed more than enough damage control on it’s own. In response Kristen, wisely, put out a public apology admitting her wrong doing and apologizing to Rob and her fans. Pre- social media this apology would have been more than enough. People would have appreciated her fessing up and telling the truth about her flub and gladly accepted her apology. She would have looked like a brave soul pre-twitter. But, alas, times have change.
Not everyone accepts celebrity apologies. In fact, some people find them phoney. It only takes a few neigh-sayers to spoil the whole bunch. Fans took to twitter and youtube with their angry and sometimes scary opinions on the subject. Most of them were… let’s just say… less than nice. Most of them called her names I shouldn’t put in a graded blog and threats that make me want to get a restraining order for her. Not only was the cheating front page news, but the fans responses became front page news as well. Especially this video:
This girl became the voice of Robert’s fans after this video spread like wild fire. It also caused the fire that burned after Kristen’s cheating you burn even longer. The worst part of all this is you can’t control the fans post. It turn’s any normal scandal into a full out circus! Which leads me to my second example:
Justin Bieber/ Drake Bell “beef”
This simple little tift started with Drake Bell retweeting a Justin Bieber joke that Joan Rivers tweeted. Here is the tweet in question:
“Justin Bieber is being sued for $9 million by a woman who says she went deaf at his concert. I’d pay DOUBLE that to not hear him sing again.”
Yes, this was harsh but we’ve all told our fair share of Bieber jokes (even Bielibers). Justin took it in stride. He made a slight remark about haters and called it a day.
But the story doesn’t end here…
Teenage Bieliber’s took to twitter in the most fowl fashion. Thousand of tweets were sent to Drake calling him every racial and homophobic slur imaginable. There were so many “go kill yourself” tweets. Essentially, Drake Bell was being cyber bullied… to the max. Some of the stuff I read disgusted me beyond belief. All the while Drake was begging these Bieliber’s to stop using racial and homophobic language and urged the parents to keep an eye on their 12-16 year old’s twitter (more than fair). And Justin wrote tweets telling his fans to be classy and even admitted his love for Drake and Josh as a child (the Nickelodeon TV show that made Drake famous). But the attack on Drake continued.
This story was only a story because of these out of control tweeters! Tweets are the news now! These faithful (and under supervised) fans actually made this news. Because of things like this:
“mom is gonna turn of the wifi…tweet you tomorrow (;
@DrakeBell hope you die tonight… <3″
What could a PR practitioner do about this? I’m not talking about Drake’s but Justin Bieber. His Fans make him look awful! And as a former Justin hater I must say he did a great job of trying to stomp this fire out with his tweets supporting Drake.
This is what I mean! Social media and crisis management has become a whole new game! Fans bully you and make you look like a joke! And still, two months later, Drake is still getting hate tweets
I think public relations professionals are under estimating the effects of social media on their clients. What is written on a celebrity’s twitter page isn’t the only thing that matters. Fans add a whole new perspective to the way we watch and what we feel about our celebrities and has just as much of an effect on that person’s image. The worst part is no one is really prepared to handle it. I don’t even know how to handle it. The best you can do is what Justin did, reach out to your fans directly and set an example. But even then damage control can be hard. I can’t wait to see what tactics are used for this new issue.
1. How could you do this video: