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A Long Look in the Mirror

Your image is what others see and think of you. Your image is what gives you a good or bad reputation. Your image also follows you through personal endeavors and your climb up the corporate ladder. So what if 60 million plus people thought differently of you just because one picture leaked onto the Internet?

As an avid reader of entertainment magazines and Web sites, I have viewed every swimsuit photograph and make-out session of the celebrities we’ve come to know as friends. Their rises and falls appear as front-page news, sometimes even overshadowing homeland security issues and the latest in presidential activities. So how do you fix your image if it has been tarnished?

Publicists, or maybe a record label’s publicity department, must morph into crisis mode. Rehab happens to be a favorite of celebrities such as Amy Winehouse, Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan, as noted by the Blog Herald . These stars are whisked away to extremely overpriced rehabilitation facilities only to emerge a few weeks later. Some change for the better, but most return in only a few days.

Celebrities need the same brand maintenance as any corporation. Their image is what sells products, which in turn creates revenue for their brand. A celebrity’s fall can result in reduced revenues for future projects. For example, Lindsay Lohan, who has encountered drug problems and run-ins with the law, can still demand $2 million for a film. After a DUI charge in 2007, her publicist released a statement admitting to her drug problems. Lohan attempted to rebrand her image as a girl with a troubled home life and has since risen back on top. Lohan’s attempts did not, however, steer the recent media coverage away from her romantic relationships and late night partying.

Kate Moss is another example of publicity that went right. After pictures of the model doing drugs were released, she issued a statement apologizing to the public for her actions. Moss spent a month in an Arizona rehab facility and since then has retained her endorsements and advertising campaigns. While she will also have a drug incident on her Google search record, Moss has re-emerged in the public limelight.

Probably the most recent case of celebrities hitting rock bottom is pop singer Britney Spears. Her life consists of tumultuous events stemming from her teen years: cast in the Mickey Mouse Club; dated Justin Timberlake; had a quickie marriage in Las Vegas, which was annulled shortly after; married to backup dancer Kevin Federline; had two boys; divorced Federline; shaved her head; went to rehab; and performed a drunken Video Music Awards performance in 2007. And what a circus it has been. Let’s also remember that Spears is only 27 years old. Now in 2009, she is gearing up for a new world tour and has recaptured her 20-year-old physique. Spears’ album has reached number one, and her life may finally be back in order. With a new management team backing the pop princess, scandalous activities have remained out of sight in the last few months. Even after all of her downfalls, Spears has come out strong and has a new image to prove it.

A recent celeb blunder has been the infamous Michael Phelps caught with drug paraphernalia. His publicist immediately released a statement issuing an apology to his fans for his “bad judgment.” Phelps’ endorsements with Speedo and Omega watches seem to still be in tact, but Kellogg’s will not renew its contract with the Olympian.

Celebrities and corporations are in similar circumstances with image management. If a crisis or mess-up occurs, someone with a public relations background has to run to the rescue. If a person or company’s image is tarnished in the eyes of the public, chances are that they will not survive the media’s scrutiny. However, only those who actually look in the mirror have a chance of surviving.

Take a long look in the mirror. Do you like what you see?

-Julie Brown

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