Want to Garner Positive Press from a Crisis? Think Again, says Beverly Hills PR Pro Howard Bragman

“Companies are under greater scrutiny than ever before,” warns Howard Bragman, founder of La Brea Communications public relations firm in Beverly Hills, Calif. The firm serves celebrities, doctors, CEOs, elected officials, regular folks and others. He lists Monica Lewinsky’s father as a client. An endorsement quote from TMZ’s Harvey Levin graces the home page of the firm’s website.

He was the speaker at this week’s PRSA-SV weekly event. 

Definition.net defines a crisis as “An unstable situation, in political, social, economic or military affairs, especially one involving an impending abrupt change.” 

Creative public relations professionals might see a problem as an opportunity to get a quote or an opinion in a media story. But Bragman says very few communications folks can successfully do this. He cautions not trying to benefit from bad things happening. 

Bragman who has been doing image work for a few years says now there are many ways to stir up image trouble. A PR crisis used to involve sex, drugs and rock and roll. But now there is social media and more of an emphasis on political correctness. An interesting side comment he made related to politics is the trend for Republican men to not want to get the COVID vaccine.

Bragman commented on ‘larger than life’ tech industry leaders like Elon Musk. He says they are like celebrities: They tend to hang around celebrities (which is true: Musk did marry a performer) and live “larger than life.” Another example is Ashton Kutcher who is known for backing tech startups and his acting career. Kutcher is both in a sense — a celebrity and entrepreneur — which is not uncommon these days.

In advising people like Steve Jobs, Bragman says, “Be careful about taking their authenticity.”  I agree with his assessment: Advise CEO celebrities to not break the law but generally be themselves. 

He cited the importance of knowing the laws that affect a situation. He commented, “Be sensitive when discussing solutions but bring in an attorney when needed.”

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Michelle McIntyre is a PR freelancer in the Silicon Valley, IBM vet and syndicated blogger with 500,000+ impressions on Quora. @fromMichelle on Twitter @Michelle408 on Clubhouse.

Thank you PRSA-SV board for scheduling this informative Friday Forum event.

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