Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes and 2 Broken Rules of PR

Interesting, wasn’t it, that news of the TomKat divorce hit on a Friday? Maybe not: There are two often used sayings that fit nicely into this celebrity “shocker” news:

Any publicity is good publicity.

And:

Release bad news on a Friday afternoon.

Let’s start with any publicity is good publicity:  If you are in Hollywood, this might indeed be true. To wit: the Kardashians. However, John Travolta might disagree with this rule of thumb. As might Tom Cruise.  From what I can tell after digesting countless tweets, articles and TV commentary between real stuff like work, family and walking the dog, Tom was shocked by the news as he was filming the aptly titled movie Oblivion in Iceland.  Between this and the bad reviews for Rock of Ages, Tom is not in a good place right now (full disclosure: I liked Tom in Rock of Ages). But Tom will recover and jump on another couch sometime soon.  If you’re with a company that finds itself in the news getting unwanted publicity: you know that there is indeed good publicity and bad publicity. You also know that publicity is fleeting, so while you might be in the news for a NY minute, this is when your PR chops really come into play. Mismanaging bad publicity leads to more bad publicity. Managing it well means you’re out of the headlines.  For the Church of Scientology, this might mean calling off the spies who are allegedly trailing Katie and Suri in NYC.

To the notion that you should release bad news on a Friday afternoon: this no longer applies. In fact, it can be a bright red flag that there’s more to your story.  Sometimes you have no choice: the crisis hits on a Friday and there’s no hiding from it. That the Katie-Tom divorce broke on a Friday was healthy relief from Obamacare coverage and, in my opinion, no different than the announcement coming on a Tuesday or Thursday. Social media has made this so.  A corporate announcement of massive layoffs will be covered ad nauseum whether you announce it on a Tuesday or a Friday.  Announcing it during the workweek at least allows your employed spokespeople to manage the crisis during the week rather than a weekend.  With the TomKat divorce, there’s possibly even more chatter because we may feel at ease dishing on this topic over the weekend rather than during the week. It’s entertainment, after all. Thousands of people file for divorce every day and we don’t read about it, or care. Perspective being what it should be, this is just another celebrity story: Stars, They’re Just Like Us!

What do you think: is all publicity good publicity? And is a Friday news announcement wise timing?

- Diane Schwartz

On Twitter: @dianeschwartz

 

 

 

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