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Safeguarding The Celebrity Brand Online
I’m sure everyone agrees that there are way too many “Celebrity” gossip websites out there. What I can’t believe (in this day and age of a web 3.0 world) is that the individual celebrity publicist, or their agency’s do not really know how to protect their celebrity clients “brand” online. Online gossip websites are notorious for spreading rumors and FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt). FUD is a marketing and PR tactic used in the technology world to influence public perception by disseminating negative (and vague) information. Whether it’s a rumor, or FUD, the main reason for this tactic is increase website traffic and “clicks”. Traffic and clicks generate advertising revenue for these gossip websites and they will do anything or say anything to get their fair share of this revenue. Whether it’s true of not, this type of business model will ruin a celebrity brand. From what I can concur, Celebrities fight these gossip sites with lawsuits or threatening email. Both are a waste of time and money. So you drag a gossip website to court, and spend large amounts on legal fee’s just to get the site to tear down the blog or picture when they will do it again in a few months? Threatening emails or phone calls only will create negative media relations that may never be repaired between the celebrity and the website owner. In fact, it may encourage them to write more rumors and negative content. Old school tactics do not work anymore as there are thousands of these sites to litigate.
So what’s a celebrity to do? Well…………..first off, tell your publicist to stop sending nasty emails or handing it over to your legal team. It will only create more negative content and wasted energy. In addition to the old fashion publicists, celebrities, sports figures, or any famous person that wants to keep his or hers reputation & brand intact needs to hire a person specifically (or agency) to devote their time to defend and even develop strong working relationships with these websites or bloggers. In the corporate world we are seeing the standard media relations departments create groups under them specifically for “blogger relations”. A blogger relations team will initiate contact with all website or bloggers that write about the company. By establishing these relationships, a company, or in this case a Celebrity can get advance “heads-up” on possible rumors or FUD and head them off (create an appropriate response) before they are posted on the web.
Why keep a celebrity brand intact? Because a “rumor” or “bad press” can take off and go viral on all sorts of social media sites. When that happens, sponsorships, scripts, movies, endorsement deals may reduce to a trickle or may even end. The entertainment world needs to start hiring “online publicists” to guard their celebrity investments! The online publicist’s job (only job) is to monitor the internet for ALL information posted about their client. They need to reply to negative (or positive) articles and blogs via the comments section. Develop personal working relationships with these bloggers so that they will double check their facts with the celebrity before posting any rumor or undesirable pictures. Other duties would be to establish official pages on social media websites (like a fan page on FaceBook) where you can communicate with the public on a regular basis to squelch any negative gossip. Again, the internet has matured and a celebrity publicist must also establish new tools in the web arena to successfully create or maintain their clients brand and image.
Utilizing a Blogger(s) to Spread the Company’s Message
A quick “blogger relations” example: A friends company found a popular blogger who had spoken highly of the company’s product + brand. Just prior to launching a new product, the company sent the blogger a free sample, inviting him to review it with “no strings attached.”
Long story shot, after a back and forth conversation with the blogger during his review, he (blogger) wrote a favorable review that generated a flood of comments. The company got nearly free publicity and feedback for a future version of the reviewed product. This blogger is a very popular on a very popular blog with thousands of followers as well as content that is syndicated. Product sales surged 35% right after the article/review was written. The traffic to the company’s website from the blog tripled (as tracked by google analytics data). Welcome to Marketing Web 3.0