One of the most challenging parts of working in celebrity publicity is re-shaping an image which the world already thinks they know. Constant public scrutiny, the demand of hundreds of media outlets calling non-stop, and the immediacy of today's media make this even harder. The latest news from Lindsay Lohan, Mel Gibson, Tiger Woods and other shining stars, makes one wonder about the differences between a celebrity and a "normal" human being.
After years of work with corporations and celebrities, I realize that the media often decides a story angle before they actually hear the facts. In "Bias" - probably the century's most significant media-criticism book - Bernard Goldberg, ex-CBS producer, states that a lie in media terms is not really a lie, "they would pass the polygraph test... they honestly believe what they're saying. And that's the biggest problem of all". Just last week, in an unprecedented rule in England, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt won their case over privacy against a gossip outlet that reported an upcoming divorce. The damages will be accounted for by the paper and offered to the intruded couple. And, all this because drama sells paper, whether it's true, false or exaggerated. I mean consider how many headlines were written on Tiger Woods, but what do we really know other than that he cheated on his wife?
The media simply feels compelled to respond to massive public interest, and human fascination. Celebrity representatives often can't respond quick enough to damaging news – and this lack of response, or failure to fix the issue, can often shape the story. In contrast to a company, brand or product, the "celebrity brand" stands alone. If something is perceived to go wrong you can't accuse production lines, 'industry trends' or forces of nature, like BP has tried to do. Instead, the individual celebrity is the only one who can break, or fix, his or her "brand."