Naked celebrity picture leak: The PR angle

Jennifer LawrenceOver the weekend, pictures of celebrities including Hunger Games actress Jennifer Lawrence appeared on the internet after a hacker breached Apple’s iCloud. It was, as Lawrence has said, “a flagrant violation of privacy.” But was it bad PR for the exposed celebrities?

Tony Ahn, who manages celebrities’ reputations at his PR firm Tony Ahn & Co, answered Mumbrella’s questions about the impact of the naked celebrity leak on those involved.

What do you think the impact of this leak will have on Jennifer Lawrence from a PR perspective?

I don’t think in the long run it helps nor hurts her. If she was naked and torturing a cat it would be a different story.

In what ways could this be turned to an advantage for those affected?

From a crisis management point of view, situations like this give victims the opportunity to make a strong statement. There is power in saying “Yes, that is me in those photos. My privacy was violated, and that makes me living proof that [insert message here]. I am a cautionary tale, and I’d like to take this moment to raise awareness about this issue.” The issue inserted between the brackets can be about why one should not trust cloud storage with personal things, about why two-step authentication is vital to our privacy, or as simple as why you shouldn’t take nudes of yourself.

What you have advised Jennifer Lawrence in this situation?

Confirm that they are real (which she did), and then either use the publicity to take a stand like I advised above, or never speak about it and move on.

Some celebrities do some silly things to get publicity. Would you ever recommend leaking pictures to get exposure? 

Negative things can be good PR for those who know how to capitalize on them, which isn’t many people. Negative PR builds brand awareness, albeit in a notorious way. It worked wonders for Paris Hilton. However, that said, I don’t think any PR practitioner in their right mind would suggest a leak of that nature, specifically because you have little control once the horse is out of the barn, and the stakes are quite high.


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